Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 28.2022
2022.07.11 — 2022.07.17
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
A Friendship Higher Than Alliance (Дружба выше союза) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion

The day of July 16 marks the 21st anniversary of the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China. Within the contemporary framework of the Russia–China partnership, the treaty has been dubbed the "document of the century" and, judging by the dynamics of the inter-state relations, it stands all chances to become one of the most solid international bilateral treaties of our age, which is particularly valuable at a time when the entire architecture of international relations appears to be close to collapse.

Yet, we should not forget that Russia and China have arrived at the current level of strategic partnership following a centuries-long path full of many trials and regrettable errors. Nor should we forget that the two largest states of Eurasia initially went through a difficult period in the 17th century, when it came to establishing first political and economic relations, a process that culminated in the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk. We should also keep in mind that China, like today, supported the "new Russia" in the early 18th century, when the confrontation between Russia and Europe heated up and the Great Northern War (1700–1721) broke out. For instance, imports of Chinese goods (primarily, fabrics) played an important role in the formation of the Russian army, which emerged victorious under the leadership of Peter the Great [1]. Since then, the relations between the two states have not suffered protracted interruptions, remaining generally positive for two centuries. In mid-19th century, treaties establishing Russian and Chinese borders were signed, and the border issue was finally settled after the demarcation of 2004–2008.

The turbulent 20 th century had varying consequences for the relations between Russia and China. Times of strong friendship were interrupted by acute but short conflicts, typically rooted in ideology [2]. The partnership between the Soviet Union and the Kuomintang under Sun Yat-sen was cut short in 1927 by a sudden attack on Chinese communists organized by his successor Chiang Kai-shek. A new thaw that marked the relations during the Second World War, when the Soviet Union and the Kuomintang established allied relations, which was ultimately enshrined in the 1945 Treaty, smoothly evolved into a closer friendship and alliance when the People's Republic of China was established, with the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance signed in 1950.

However, the honeymoon decade of the 1950s was followed by an era of ideological confrontation that eclipsed the 1960s and 1970s. This period of a sudden cold spell, at times turning into animosity between the neighbours, resulted in the tragic events at Damansky Island in 1969, an incident that showed how ideological differences can destroy constructive interactions between friendly neighbouring states in virtually every area, from geopolitics to cultural ties, all in a matter of a few short years.

Since the early 1980s, this negative experience helped both parties come to the firm conviction that there is no alternative to good-neighbourly relations between the two peoples and countries. General consulates of both states were reopened in 1986. The historic visit of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Beijing in 1989 marked a rapid and unfaltering development of friendly relations between Russia and China [3]. In 1992, the two states officially proclaimed their friendly relations; and they announced a constructive partnership in 1994. Two years later, in 1996, Moscow and Beijing signed a Declaration proclaiming their determination to foster an equal and trust-based partnership with a view to strategic interactions in the 21 st century. This declaration paved the way for the Treaty of 2001.

It is highly symbolic that the treaty was signed in the first year of a new millennium, with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of China Jiang Zemin putting pen to paper in Moscow on July 16, 2001. The document epitomized the many centuries of bilateral relations. Not only does it reflect four centuries of good neighbourliness and friendship between the peoples of the two countries but it also proclaims a new model of relations—one that aligns with the fundamental national interests of the two states and the hopes of their peoples. The model also plays an important role in maintaining a stable multipolar world order, ensuring security and stability. Bilateral relations were proclaimed to be free from ideological biases and prejudices. The Treaty envisaged mutual respect for the historical paths and political systems. Cooperation between the two sides was to be reinvigorated by mutual political and economic interests. Russia–China relations were now based on equality, consideration for each other's interests, and freedom from current political and ideological circumstances.

The Treaty legally enshrined the description of mutual relations as "the strategic cooperative partnership of equality and trust" proclaimed in 1996. It also formalized mutual support in protecting national unity and territorial integrity, confirming bilateral commitment to refrain from first use of nuclear weapons against each other or targeting each other with strategic nuclear missiles. It also formulated the principle of respect for choosing one's own path of political, economic, social, and cultural development, and envisaged immediate contacts in case of threat of an aggression against one of the parties.

Besides, the Treaty contains an important legal formula, stating intent "to develop the friendship between the people of the two countries from generation to generation" (a statement that has never been used in any other international instrument). The treaty calls upon the parties to always remain friends, good neighbours, and dependable partners, and to never be enemies. This legal wording was not present even in allied treaties between the USSR and China, and it makes it possible to say that the China–Russia friendship enjoys a status higher than that of an alliance.

June 5, 2019—the year of the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and the People's Republic of China—saw the adoption of a Joint Statement on Developing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Entering a New Era. Russia said it highly valued the fact that relations between the two states had reached an unprecedentedly high level.

Personal relations between the leaders of the two states play a very important role in shaping and bolstering such a close partnership. As of the time of writing, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have met 38 times while holding frequent telephone conversations. This creates a personal touch, ensures dynamically developing relations and allows any topical issues to be dealt with at the highest level. The vertical of power in Russia, and particularly that in China, ensure top-level decisions are effectively enforced. Consequently, Russia and China enhance their political dialogue year in year out. Strategic relations of trust between heads of state constitute a political advantage for the entire system of Russia–China relations.

Over the past year, the relations between China and Russia have faced unprecedented geopolitical and economic challenges. In 2021, Russia's relations with the West deteriorated sharply over the situation in Ukraine. Even with the heightened international tensions, China has demonstrated its readiness to lend diplomatic support to Russia once again. On June 28, 2021, Russia and China adopted a Joint Statement marking the 20th anniversary of the Sino-Russian Treaty and announced its prolongation for five years.

Finally, a Joint Russia–China statement on International Relations Entering a New Era and Global Sustainable Development was signed on February 4, 2022, following talks between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Back in August 1997, Russia and China signed a Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order, advocating multilateralism ever since. In their Joint Statement of February 4, 2022, the parties announced that "no State can or should ensure its own security separately from the security of the rest of the world and at the expense of the security of other States." The parties called for a new kind of relations between world powers—operating on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The Statement also emphasized that the inter-state relations are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era, that friendship between the two states knows no limits, that there are no "forbidden" areas of cooperation, that enhancing strategic bilateral cooperation is neither aimed against third countries nor affected by the evolving international environment and circumstantial changes in third countries. Vladimir Putin said that these relations have become "a paragon of efficiency, responsibility, and aspiration for the future." Such words have established unprecedentedly close political relations between Russia and China, and the subsequent events of February 2022 showed that it was these relations that took the world into a new era.

From the first days of the conflict, China's response to the events in Ukraine has been quite positive for Russia. China is consistent in its stance that the conflict was provoked by NATO's expansion, while the sanctions that the West has imposed on Russia are at odds with international law and they are provoking a global economic crisis. Besides, Chinese diplomats stress that the conflict has to be resolved through speedy talks and that historical roots of the conflict also need to be taken into account. These statements are quite in alignment with Russia's stance.

In a telephone conversation on June 15, 2022, the Russian and Chinese leaders reaffirmed the successful development of Russia–China relations, notwithstanding a broad range of global changes. At the same time, the Chinese President reaffirmed Beijing's independent stance on the Ukrainian issue with account for historical facts and realities.

The telephone conversation that took place on Xi Jinping's birthday also happened to be on the eve of the key Russia–China session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 16. Over 40 Chinese companies (ten of them with annual revenues of over RUB 20 bn.) participated in the Russia–China business dialogue moderated by the heads of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (now the Institute of Chinese and Contemporary Asian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) and the Union of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Russia. The delegates from China made no secret of the fact that they had come to Russia with the explicit goal of filling the niches that the West had vacated in the Russian economy. Their business areas were selected to fit with Russia's current needs: engineering, industrial equipment, automobile spare parts, petrochemical equipment, agricultural products, etc.

In his Address at the Forum's Plenary Session on June 17, the Russian President emphasized that Russia finds it "interesting and important to cooperate with China, but it does not mean that Beijing should support Moscow in everything: China has its interests, and we need to respect them." In turn, the Chinese leader, addressing the Forum's attendees via video link, confirmed that "today, China–Russia cooperation in every area is on the rise […] it evidences high stress resilience and internal potential of China–Russia cooperation."

Announcements made at the "Russia–China Business Dialogue" session included the establishment of a Coordination Council for China involving Russia's leading academic centres and supported by the Presidential Executive Office, the Government, and the Security Council of the Russian Federation. Those in attendance were also informed that the Institute of Oriental Studies had been renamed the Institute for Chinese and Contemporary Asian Studies under the auspices of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which certainly evidences Russia's great attention to Russia–China relations.

Therefore, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum once again demonstrated the stability of and mutual interest in a steady development of practical cooperation between Russia and China. Today, political arrangements and joint statements are successfully transformed into economic outcomes. China has become the largest consumer of Russian energy resources, and the two governments are involved in intensive talks on establishing new routes for transporting Russia's oil and gas into China, and these talks could produce agreements as early as this year. The reverse flow of commodities is perking up as well: in particular, an announcement on the resumption of deliveries of spare parts for civilian aircraft from China was made immediately after the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Cooperation in the automobile industry is also fostered. Sales of Chinese smartphones on the Russian market have surpassed those of the traditional leaders, American and South Korean brands, for the first time this year. All these developments mean that, despite sanctions pressure, Chinese companies will continue to increase two-way trade with Russia as part of the cooperation between the two states.

Bilateral military and political cooperation is on the rise. The sharply expanded geography of joint military exercises and drills is, alongside with military-technical cooperation, proof enough of this: this year, such exercises have been held in the Arabian Sea (January), the Sea of Japan, and the South China Sea (May). In July, reports surfaced that Russia, China and Iran were preparing for large-scale joint exercises in Latin America at the invitation of Venezuela.

Global cooperation between Russia and China is also reflected in their common stances in international platforms. In particular, interest in further enhancing Russia–China relations, including taking a common or similar position on issues in international politics, was demonstrated at the 14th BRICS Summit in Beijing on June 22–24, 2022 and at the BRICS Business Forum held as part of the Summit. BRICS, which accounts for 45 per cent of the global population, will overtake G7's total share in the global GDP in the near future, thus increasing its global influence and becoming the epicentre of multilateral partnership in the interests of universal and equal development. It is by no accident that the Summit was attended by 13 countries in addition to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS+).

The leaders of Russia and China said in their addresses that the nations of BRICS stand for joint efforts to promote peace and stability around the world. BRICS enjoys support of many nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The five countries seek independent foreign policies and continue making active contributions to a truly multipolar system of international relations based on international law and on the key principles of the UN Charter. The Russia–China strategic partnership enshrined in the 2001 Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China may serve as a model of such relations between states.

1. G. N. Romanova, "The Genesis of Russia–China Trade Ties (17th – first third of the 18 th centuries)," Tamozhennaia politika Rossii na Dalnem Vostoke 67, no. 2 (2014): 101–111.

2. L. P. Chernikova, "Russia–China Relations: History and Present," Problemy vostokovedeniia 68, no. 2 (2015): 42–46.

3. Y. Li, "Mikhail Gorbachev's Contribution to Normalizing Soviet-Chinese Relations," Problemy Dalnego Vostoka2 (2021): 66–82.

Argentina is looking forward to BRICS membership — ambassador to Russia (Аргентина надеется на членство в БРИКС — посол в России) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: brics+

MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. Buenos Aires is hoping that joining BRICS will help its further multilateral development and is looking forward to membership, the country's ambassador in Moscow, Eduardo Zuain, told TASS on Monday.

"One of our desires is to finally start working side by side with the big countries [BRICS], and our chancellor (Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero - TASS) expressed the same point of view. We look forward to the day when we finally join this group and multilateral development will help us to move forward," he said.

The ambassador refrained from forecasting the time of joining. Speaking about the prospects for expanding the BRICS format, the diplomat emphasized that "the world now lacks the environment and other opportunities to conduct a normal dialogue."

Argentina and Iran in June 2022 applied to join BRICS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said these countries are worthy candidates for joining BRICS and the preparatory process for expanding the organization has already been started.

BRICS won't replace G20 in case of expansion — Kremlin (БРИКС не заменит G20 в случае расширения — Кремль) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: quotation, political_issues, global_governance, brics+

According to Dmitry Peskov, BRICS is an important mechanism for coordination, interaction, and cooperation, but the G20 is a completely different, wider association

MOSCOW, July 14. /TASS/. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in case of its expansion will not become an alternative to the Group of Twenty (G20), these associations complement each other, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

"No, it's impossible," he replied to the question about whether BRICS could replace the G20.

According to Peskov, BRICS is an important mechanism for coordination, interaction, and cooperation, but the G20 is a completely different, wider association. "They are not interchangeable, they are rather complementary," he stressed.

In June 2022, Argentina and Iran applied to join BRICS. Later, the President of the BRICS International Forum Purnima Anand said that Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are also planning to apply for participation in this association.

West wrongly portrays BRICS as block-type, confrontational organization — paper (Запад ошибочно изображает БРИКС как блочную, конфронтационную организацию) / China, July, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

In this way, Western countries demonstrate a narrow way of thinking, says a columnist for the Global Times newspaper

BEIJING, July 17. /TASS/. The West demonstrates a narrow-minded approach when it portrays BRICS - a group of major emerging economies uniting Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - as an organization seeking to become a rival of NATO or G7, a columnist of China's Global Times newspaper wrote.

"When facing possible BRICS enlargement, the West can hardly hide their Cold War mentality. Since the BRICS summit was held in June, Western media outlets have been hyping the topic under the theme of East-West confrontation," the opinion piece says. "Western netizens also describe BRICS as a rival of G7 and NATO. It cannot be more narrow-minded to view BRICS in this way. As if for some Westerners, when some countries get together, they are bonding to have a target to oppose, just like what the West has always done."

At the same time, according to the article's author, "BRICS has simply no interest in becoming another G7 or NATO" or engaging in a block-type standoff.

"When the West compares BRICS with G7 and NATO, it has turned a blind eye to the fact that G7 has long become a rich countries' club, and NATO's mentality is still trapped in the Cold War. Whenever G7 attempts to put up a show to discuss various global issues nowadays, all it really cares about is containment of China and Russia," Global Times writes.

In the author's opinion, BRICS differs from Western organizations in the sense that its members are equal and free to act independently, but within the framework of established principles of cooperation. Moreover, the group has "the will, and, in different degrees, capability, to fix the deficit in global governance."

As far as admitting new members into the group is concerned, the article says that it is unlikely to take place before specific membership rules and procedures are adopted. However, "when Turkey, a NATO ally, applies for BRICS membership, it <…> represents something much cooler than US-dominated rules and orders," the paper writes. "At least it signals that the world needs a reformed governance where Western voices are not the only sound."

In June 2022, Argentina and Iran applied to join BRICS. Later, the President of the BRICS International Forum Purnima Anand said that Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia were also planning to apply for joining the association. In her words, the admittance of new members should not take long. In her opinion, discussions and possible decision on granting membership to some of those applicants may be expected during the organization's next summit.

Why the West Has Failed to Get the Rest of the World on Board to Support Its Confrontation With Russia (Почему Западу не удалось привлечь остальной мир к поддержке своей конфронтации с Россией) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

The recent festival of big Western politics – which began with a meeting of the European Council, continued with the G7 Summit, and ended with a major NATO gathering – provides plenty of food for thought about the fate of the world.

On the surface, what we have seen is impressive: The West is showing unprecedented unity in the face of the Russian campaign in Ukraine.

America has gathered almost all of its allies. Right now, from Australia to Norway, from Singapore to Portugal, and from Japan to Iceland, the agenda is the same – to prevent the success of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who represents a rejection of the so-called 'rules-based order'.

The brutality and irreversibility of what is happening in Ukraine gives the situation the character of a moral choice. Almost all statements from Western leaders refer to a confrontation between «civilization and barbarism». Accordingly, they believe, there should be no doubt about which side to take.

The Western community has now reached maximum capacity – its European flank (EU and NATO members plus Ukraine and Moldova), its Asian club (South Korea, Japan, and Singapore stopped wavering and took the 'right' side), the Oceania pairing, and of course, North America. The 'free world' has never been so vast.

This raises a serious question, however. Has the West reached its natural limit beyond which expansion is no longer possible? And if so, what does it mean?

In fact, the topic of the limits of Western influence stems from the notorious concept of the 'end of history', which is already so worn out that it is even inconvenient to bring it up. Nevertheless, it is appropriate in this context. Francis Fukuyama's reflections (he was recently banned from entering Russia, as it happens) led him to conclude that with the collapse of the communist alternative, the only question that remained was how soon and how painlessly the Western economic and socio–political model – which had proved its virtues in the showdown with the USSR – would spread to the rest of the world. The author admitted that it would not be without snags, but in general, the direction was determined once and for all.

How things actually played out after the collapse of the USSR is well known, and despite the fact that numerous crises in developed countries have dimmed the view of the expected path of development, the system has been preserved – and no one has yet come close to the Western world in terms of well-being and comfort. And the Western media still has a near-monopoly on determining the picture of what is happening on a global scale. This means it has a huge head start. But the limit seems to have been reached.

Perhaps the main surprise resulting from the events of recent months is that the West has failed to engage so much of the world in a united front against Russia – the exceptions being those who are already part of the West and a few who passionately want to join the club.

This is unexpected, since few people approve of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Moscow is dealing with problems that are seemingly irrelevant to anyone but itself, and the harsh methods and humanitarian consequences of the conflict do not elicit much sympathy from outside. In other words, objectively, the West has an excellent chance to win over most of the rest of the world by taking the line that its cause here is about opposition to barbarism.

But this is not happening. Why? There are perhaps three main reasons.

Firstly, the non-Western world knows perfectly well that wars on the planet have never stopped, including in the last 30 years, and statements from the EU states about the era of 'harmony and prosperity' that Putin interrupted are perceived as both selfishness and hypocrisy. Telling people in the Middle East, for example, that Russia has violated every conceivable moral standard is, to put it mildly, difficult in light of what the region has experienced since the Cold War ended.

Secondly, most in the former third world see the current events as the culmination of a long-standing conflict related to the assertive policies of the US and its allies regarding the territories directly adjacent to Russia. Their attitude is something like: 'What did you expect would happen when you provoked the tiger?'

Finally, the reaction of the majority of the planet illustrates their irritation with the West as a whole. It is perceived as a hegemon with a colonial history which is always abusing its powers. The reason is not support for Russia's actions, but opposition to the West's attempts to impose its will on others, which often harms their own interests. Also, schadenfreude over America's failed attempts to impose its will compensates for any doubts about the legitimacy of Moscow's actions.

In other words, it's not about sympathy for Russia, but antipathy to the West.

Western leaders are both surprised and alarmed by this situation. If the initial calls to join the boycott of Russia amounted to orders, now the demands have been replaced by exhortations and attempts to promise something in return. The selection of the G7 Summit guests – the presidents of India, Indonesia, Senegal, Argentina, and South Africa – is indicative.

The invited parties were warmly welcomed. Everyone was in a hurry to tap Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the shoulder and give him attention. But apart from general statements, nothing happened. And almost in parallel with the events in Europe, Modi participated in a virtual BRICS summit, and Argentina, it seems, together with Iran, has applied to join this emerging association.

The position of non-Western states is dictated not only by anti-colonial instincts, although they do exist. More importantly, in the new conditions, it is difficult for the West to offer the leading countries of the rest of the world anything that would force them to radically change their positions. There are now alternative sources of resources for development – a number of members of the former third world today have money, skills, and to some extent, technology. The West is still ahead of them in many ways, but – and this is fundamentally important – it has now completely lost the desire to share its advantages.

Simply because it now fears competition from them – the experience of American support for the development of China is considered a mistake by the current elites.

Developing countries are of course interested in Western investment, but the nature of interaction is also changing. To put it mildly, the former third world is becoming more demanding and picky, and the West's ability to impose its own conditions has weakened amid large-scale global changes.

The series of meetings in Europe was intended to show that the West is still the undisputed vanguard of the world, which has both the right and responsibility to lead others. For instance, NATO is once again attempting to become a global organization rather than regional.

The bloc's most recent experience of this kind – in Afghanistan – ended in embarrassment. But now the approach is more natural – opposition to Russia.

As they see it, Russia is a threat to Western European security (as it was in the glory days of NATO), but it is also a dangerous pariah for all mankind, so opposing it will help expand the US-led club globally. Moreover, the specter of China looms – a systemic competitor to the West and, even better, an accomplice of 'the Russians'.

How much the Western world itself is united for the full implementation of such a mission is a topic for another article. There are a lot of nuances here. However, even assuming that this is the case, there is no reason to think that NATO's ambition will meet with understanding beyond its borders.

As a consequence, the broad refusal to recognize the right of the West to lead means there will no longer be a world order based on Western rules.

This article was originally published on and translated and re-published by
BRICS — How Will the Organisation Get a 'Second Wind'? (БРИКС — Как организация получит «второе дыхание»?) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion

Realising the positive chances from the emerging new period of growth of the association, all countries need to remain diplomatic in promoting their priorities, and seek a delicate balance that will give the BRICS the required stability in the next development cycle, writes Valdai Club expert Dmitry Razumovsky.
BRICS, which was rapidly gaining momentum in the first decade of its operation, has, expectedly, over the past few years faced a certain crisis in its development (this crisis is understood not as a decline, but as a turning point, a transitional situation). At the level of official discourse, the word "crisis" was never used; the rhetoric continued to be predominantly optimistic, however, the expert community has increasingly called for a rethinking of the role of the association, overcoming the mounting internal contradictions. The very logic of the development of any association implies that periods of growth, expansion of the agenda, the predominance of centripetal forces, and crises will alternate, and that it is necessary to look for new foundations for rapprochement. The reasons for slippage, as is always the case, have been both external and internal. On the one hand, a fundamental transformation of the globalisation process has begun (and this process is only gaining momentum); there are calls for the basic principles and mechanisms which bring the BRICS countries together to undergo reform. This challenge is facing all global multilateral organisations today; BRICS is not unique here: the WTO, the G7, the G20, and even the UN and its structures — all of them are faced with the loss of their status as universal platforms for overseeing the global rules of the game. For BRICS, on the one hand, this is a problem of self-identification, since the countries have advocated the transformation of global mechanisms imposed by developed countries. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to "rebuild" the association, turning it into an alternative, new platform for uniting the entire developing world. The latter scenario inevitably implies the expansion of the union, both by accepting new members (which is already happening), and in the BRICS+ format that has become a permanent issue for the current Chinese presidency in 2022.

The difficulties of the BRICS were also caused by internal reasons. The test for BRICS was 2020, when the association, contrary to expectations, did hardly anything to assist in countering the COVID-19 pandemic. While initially considered a club of the most dynamic economies, the union of five countries has become internally highly heterogeneous. China and India continue to vie with each other as leaders of economic growth, while Brazil, South Africa and Russia have witnessed a systemic crisis since the mid-2010s, when the fall in GDP alternates with stagnant growth. Economic difficulties in Brazil and South Africa have led to a change of elites. The new leaders have sought to critically rethink their goals and priorities in unification. However, today BRICS is no longer a club of growth leaders, and the ability of the candidate countries to effectively participate in solving the most acute current problems facing the developing world — the energy and food crises — is coming to the fore. In many respects, these considerations have dictated China's desire to include Argentina and Iran in the union, despite all the well-known problems facing the economies of these countries.

The aggravation of contradictions between China and India, and along the China-Brazil line, has also led to a slowdown in active work in the BRICS. The rise of China, securing for it the role of the "main sponsor" of the BRICS (primarily as the main founder of the New Development Bank) presents a kind of challenge for Beijing, since the line between leadership and dominance, as the experience of other associations shows, is usually very thin. The accumulated dissatisfaction with the real results of the decade-long work of the association has also made its contribution: many initiatives, including the task of strengthening the voice of developing countries and reforming the global regulatory institutions, still remain only slogans.

To understand the prospects for BRICS, it makes sense to look at the evolution of approaches to unify the current government in Brazil. The victory of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 was perceived by some experts as a moment of risk for the five, as the new elites in power made no secret of their desire to place their main stake on rapprochement with the United States. The negative scenarios did not materialise. However, Brasilia did significantly rethink its priorities, goals and objectives. Unlike his predecessors from the leftist camp (Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff), Bolsonaro was not close to the idea of uniting the Global South under the banner of reshaping the world order. However, more pragmatic, technocratic areas that are objectively beneficial to the country (technological cooperation, the fight against organised crime, digitalisation and the Development Bank) were chosen as priorities in the year of Brazil's chairmanship in 2019. Paradoxically, such a narrowing of the agenda played a rather constructive role in the development of BRICS, since the quality of the elaboration of joint decisions was so high that Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Sherpa of the Russian Federation in the BRICS, even commended the brilliant organisation of the work, saying that there were far more specifics than general declarations. Paraphrasing the famous phrase of Alexander Gorchakov, one can say that the Brazilian presidency allowed BRICS to focus, to replace the extensive growth of the agenda of previous years with intensive progress in really important and compromise-driven areas.

The arrival of the Joe Biden administration in Washington in 2021 has led to a cooling of the enthusiasm among the Brazilian elites regarding the prospects for rapprochement with the United States. In Brasilia the incumbent American President's threats, made during the election campaign, were well-heard: to impose sanctions against the Tropical Giant if it does not reconsider its policy toward the Amazon River. Bolsonaro is also worried about the inclusion of environmental issues in the NATO agenda. That is, the increased attention of the military alliance in the Amazon region is not ruled out, which is traditionally an extremely sensitive topic for Brazilians. In this context, the Brazilian leader is revisiting his previously restrained approach to the BRICS, recognising its importance and strategic significance for the country as a tool to counter isolation in the event that the risks of worsening relations with the US and the EU materialise. Following this logic, Bolsonaro today advocates expanding the association, including within the framework of BRICS +, and in official speeches he speaks of the need to reform the World Bank, IMF and the UN Security Council, which was difficult to imagine a few years ago.

Geographic expansion

Expansion through the inclusion of new full members has been talked about since the first years of the BRICS. Since the concept of BRICS as an alliance of civilizations initially prevailed, where each macro-region is represented by one leader, the inclusion of a large Islamic country was most likely. Indonesia, as the world's largest Islamic country in terms of population, and Egypt were usually considered. The recent application for the entry of Shiite Iran alters this logic, since, apparently, when inviting Tehran to the recent 14th Summit, China was guided by the exceptional importance of the country precisely from the point of view of its energy potential as one of the leaders in hydrocarbon reserves.

The possibility of Argentina joining the BRICS was also discussed for a long time, but Brazil was interested in maintaining its role as a regional leader, representing all of Latin America. The possibility of competition from Buenos Aires did not rouse enthusiasm among the authorities of the Tropical Giant, even during the reign of the left, despite the friendly relations between the countries at that time. Argentina then did not yet face the economic problems that it is experiencing today; the country's economy was one of the most dynamic in the region. At present, the countries are going through a difficult period in the history of their bilateral relations; the leaders have no trusting, friendly contact. In BRICS, any decision on the admission of new members is made by consensus, but how easy it will be to get the support of the Brazilian authorities for the entry of Argentina remains a big question. Argentina's entry into the association will not only exacerbate political rivalry; the countries are the largest food producers, competing in many markets. The appearance of a second country from one continent in BRICS will finally move the organisation away from its original concept of uniting the political and economic leaders of their continents (or civilizations). However, these challenges also present opportunities. The new global situation requires developing countries to push old grievances to the background, so that they may work on the task of increasing the representative nature of the BRICS, expanding its potential in addressing the food and energy crises.

Without Argentina, achieving this goal will be much more difficult, since together the two Latin American countries are able to provide food for more than 1 billion people. Participation in the BRICS of another state of the region, especially a partner in Mercosur, despite the competition, creates more opportunities to convey the Latin American agenda and priorities.

At the time of writing, Jair Bolsonaro had not officially commented on his decision to support or not support the entry of Argentina, while the statements were limited to the words of the Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes about the possibility of connecting Buenos Aires to the New Development Bank. However, the mere fact of the official application for membership may indicate that there may be some informal arrangements between Brasilia and Buenos Aires.

The inclusion of new full members of the BRICS is a long process, which, even with the consent of all participants, could take several years. The Chinese approach to foreign policy is traditionally characterised by flexibility and action on several tracks at once. It is this "second track" that BRICS+ is intended to become. There are two approaches to the implementation of cooperation within the framework of this format. The approach of Russia is known, which promoted the concept of "integration of integrations", which implies the cooperation of integration projects, where the participating countries are leaders (EAEU, Mercosur, South African Customs Union). China could participate through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. If to consider the concept of "integration" precisely as a formalized process of trade liberalisation, then at present individual regional integration blocs would really be interested in implementing deep forms of integration, for example, through the signing of free trade agreements (FTAs). Mercosur, having signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the EAEU, consistently offers the Eurasian bloc the opportunity to start trade negotiations. China would also be interested in rapprochement with all associations, but many countries see significant risks from such agreements for their producers. It may seem paradoxical that the "integration of integrations" format was promoted by Moscow, whose foreign trade policy is conservative; the EAEU has only a few FTAs with third countries. Despite the optimism of many experts about the prospects for establishing such a network of trade agreements between integration blocs, the author sees such breakthroughs as unlikely in the medium term. Today, in many countries or associations, there is a growing demand for closeness and the protection of national producers in order to achieve greater industrial and technological independence. The willingness to actively cooperate in creating a common financial or logistics infrastructure does not mean the willingness of Brazil, Russia or perhaps Argentina to open their markets and increase competition with imports from China.

China's approach to the implementation of the BRICS+ format implies rather a "union of regionalisms", when not trade blocs, but regional associations (SCO, CELAC, African Union) participate in the dialogue. China has established a dialogue with all these organisations (or being a member); there is a broad agenda of cooperation related to economic, political, scientific and technological areas and other topics. Obviously, the advantage of the Chinese approach is flexibility, as there is no need to talk about trade agreements by imposing rigid standards. The only formal obstacle to the implementation of the model today is the non-participation of Brazil (by Bolsonaro's decision) in CELAC since 2019, the return of the country to the organisation has not yet been discussed. However, it is possible to expect that the position of the Brazilian leader in a reasonable perspective will change amid disappointment in the stalled rapprochement with the United States. A softening of the position is also noticeable in relations with the left-wing radical governments of Latin America, primarily Venezuela (it was precisely the preservation of this country's participation in CELAC that became the reason for Brazil's withdrawal). In any case, the decision on the possible resumption of participation in the regional union, if it is made, looks most likely after the elections in October 2022. If the left-wing politician Lula da Silva wins, the country's return to CELAC can be considered a foregone conclusion. Therefore, Beijing is ready to bide its time. Chinese approaches to diplomacy and international politics are known for their strategic vision for the long term, the current formal obstacles to the implementation of their plans are perceived as temporary, and simply to be waited out. When communicating with our Chinese colleagues dealing with the topic of BRICS, one can feel a similar conviction in the objective mutual benefit and usefulness of the format for all participants.

New realities — new agenda

In the year of its presidency, China was noted not only for initiatives to expand the BRICS; it also significantly developed the agenda, including 23 priorities in 5 areas. There have not been such a number of initiatives within the BRICS for a long time, although most areas of work continue to develop the previous priorities. However, attention is drawn to the surprising similarity of the agenda of all major international forums in 2022. For example, within the framework of the 9th Summit of the Americas, held in early June under the chairmanship of the United States, Washington promoted an agenda that included the problems of post-pandemic recovery, combating the food and energy crises, cooperation in the field of healthcare, innovation, security, ecology, and trade. The intersections with China's priorities in BRICS are significant. Washington's main message during the Summit can be formulated as a desire to limit the presence of external players in the zone of their traditional interests. China, which did not participate in any way at the Summit of the Americas and was not mentioned by US officials in speeches, was in fact invisibly present. During his keynote speech at the opening of the forum on June 6, Joe Biden, after the announcement of new proposals for cooperation, emphasised, clearly in defiance of China, that the Western Hemisphere has enough of its own resources to solve all its main problems. The competition of the main financial development instruments is also obvious. For example, the United States promised to capitalise the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) as it is concerned about the growing presence of the Chinese New Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS New Development Bank, financed mainly by Beijing.

Certain signs of rivalry with China can also be seen on the agenda of the 48th G7 summit at the end of June. Developed countries, largely in opposition to the Chinese Belt and Road project, announced their own infrastructure development project in developing countries. There was also talk about the food crisis and assistance to poor countries in counteracting rising prices, where Argentina was also invited to participate. The Western countries and China are entering into intense competition for the developing world, where aid and development programmes will become the main tool, and the developed world is playing the role of catching up in many respects.

For Russia, such a transformation and expansion (geographical and thematic) of the BRICS is obviously beneficial. The intensification of work on the creation of independent financial mechanisms (a new international currency, a pool of reserve currencies, the BRICS Pay payment system) is of interest not only to Moscow, which seeks to reduce its dependence on the monetary infrastructure of the West. The possible inclusion of new members, like Argentina and Iran, demonstrates the failure of the policy of isolating Russia. The Kremlin is ready to move away from the previous logic of the BRICS, when the association was emphatically positioned neither as an alternative to the West, nor as a coalition against it. Today, such positioning is no longer relevant for Russia and China. The latter confirmed this by inviting Iran to participate in the Summit, a country that is in a long-standing conflict with the US, but at the same time has almost 9% of the world's oil reserves and 17% of its natural gas.

However, such an anti-Western projection of the BRICS is not beneficial to all its participants. Significantly, India, as well as candidate Argentina, took part in the G7 Summit. Argentina depends on the position of the IMF because of its debt problem; it discusses the possibility of obtaining assistance from developed countries. India seeks to pursue a multi-vector policy by participating with the US, Japan and Australia in the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (QUAD). Its interest in achieving the common goals of improving global regulation and interaction for the sake of development does not mean that all BRICS members are ready to oppose the countries of the West. Realising the positive chances from the emerging new period of growth of the association, all countries need to remain diplomatic in promoting their priorities, and seek a delicate balance that will give the BRICS the required stability in the next development cycle.
BRICS can be expanded (БРИКС может быть расширен) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+

Such major countries of the world as Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Indonesia and Iran have expressed their desire to join the BRICS, President of the BRICS International Forum Purnima Anand said. According to her, these countries are already in the process of joining the ranks of the organization.

"All these countries have shown their interest in joining and are preparing to apply for membership. I think this is a good step, because expansion is always perceived positively, it will clearly strengthen the influence of BRICS around the world," said Ms. Anand.

BRICS (abbreviation) is an economic coalition that now includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was formed in 2006 as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The larger format of cooperation (BRICS+) now includes Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Fiji and Ethiopia. And several other countries of the world are showing interest in joining this group.

Such an increase in the number of participants in the BRICS economic union is directly opposite in quality to the process of expanding the NATO military bloc. BRICS brings economic development, NATO brings war.

The entry of new countries that applied at the end of June 2022 may take place at the next BRICS summit in 2023 in South Africa. Purnima Anand believes that BRICS will be able to work to create a new just world order. According to her now the world witness a real manifestation of this association strengthening. Meanwhile a very interesting question arises – what will be the name of "BRICS" after new partners join the association of the five founding countries?

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, July 14, 2022 (Брифинг официального представителя МИД России М.В.Захаровой, Москва, 14 июля 2022 года) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: mofa, quotation, brics+

Question: What does Russia's think about Iran's desire to join BRICS? Could Iran's neighbours join the group as well?

Maria Zakharova: The 14th BRICS summit was held successfully on June 23-24. It was held in the BRICS+ format within the framework of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development. The countries with emerging markets demonstrated their solid intention to strengthen cooperation with BRICS. All the participants, including Russia, appreciated the fact that the President of Iran attended that meeting.

The final declaration set forth the policy of the further strengthening of the five countries' cooperation with developing countries in the outreach and BRICS+ formats.

Discussions on expanding the group intensified at the initiative of China's chairmanship. We support this idea, as we have pointed out on numerous occasions. BRICS will now need to determine the modalities of the process, that is, coordinate its principles, criteria, standards and relevant procedures. After that, the five countries will need to come to agreement on enlarging the group, following which they can start discussing potential candidates in the developing world.

Anyway, we are aware of the growing interest in the group and its capabilities.

World of Work
BRICS+: The Global South Responds To New Challenges (in the Context of China's BRICS Chairmanship) (БРИКС+: Глобальный Юг отвечает на новые вызовы (в контексте председательства Китая в БРИКС)) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: brics+

Topping the agenda of the 2017 BRICS Summit was Chinese President Xi Jinping's newly introduced concept of BRICS+ aimed at expanding partnerships within the group of emerging markets and establishing South-South cooperation.

This goal is fully in line with the Group of Five's strategic priorities. The BRICS countries share a common vision of the principles underlying the international trade and financial regulation system. They call for promoting South-South cooperation, increasing the economic clout of the developing economies and enhancing their ability to shape the agenda of global governance institutions.

This paper is an attempt to assess potential scenarios for implementing the BRICS+ format with account taken of the initiatives that have been implemented at the BRICS summits since 2017. In general, we believe that the BRICS+ "integration of integrations" development scenario will be incredibly beneficial for BRICS and their Global South partners as they press ahead with laying the foundations for a new global governance system.
BRICS Development Paths: Expansion of the Core or 'Integration of Integrations'? (Пути развития БРИКС: расширение ядра или «интеграция интеграций»?) / Russia, July, 2022
Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

On July 12, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion timed to coincide with the release of the new Valdai Paper "BRICS+: The Global South Responds To New Challenges (in the Context of China's BRICS Chairmanship)". Discussion moderator Yaroslav Lissovolik, Programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club and co-author of the paper, outlined the development of the BRICS+ format this year, noting that the group now faces a dilemma – whether to expand its core or involve regional integration groups in its work. The authors of the paper consider the latter option to be the preferred one at the present time.

Ekaterina Arapova, co-author of the paper, is Director of the Center of Sanction Policy Expertise and Head of the Department of Academic Development at the Institute for International Studies at MGIMO University. She stressed that the Global South now needs some kind of consolidated institutional platform to represent its interests in the world arena, equalise imbalances within the group of developing countries and respond to global challenges. In this capacity, both the BRICS 5 and the emerging BRICS+ format, the concept of which is currently in the process of formation, look promising. Arapova presented three possible scenarios for the development of BRICS: expanding the BRICS core, maintaining a two-tier system (with the "five" as the institutional core, while developing the BRICS+ concept in the "integration of integrations" format in parallel), and expanding the core while simultaneously adding one or two states and developing the BRICS+ format.

Pavel Knyazev, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sous-Sherpa of Russia to BRICS, called this year's summit very interesting in terms of developing inclusive contacts between the BRICS and other developing countries. According to him, the summit confirmed that the BRICS format is now in demand and is one of the pillars of multilateralism. "Unlike other interstate groups, we did not deal with a confrontational agenda," the diplomat stressed, adding that both segments, the BRICS format and the BRICS+ format, were aimed at finding joint answers to key global challenges, and almost all invited heads of state and government have come out in support of a more inclusive and multilateral political and economic architecture.

Nandan Unnikrishnan, Honorary Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, noted that the BRICS format "seems to be a kind of alternative to what the West calls 'rules-based order'", but pointed out that the expansion of the core of the group will inevitably face a number of problems and splits due to the lack of clear criteria for the selection of potential members. According to the expert, at this stage the BRICS+ format looks more promising, but it should hardly be based only on regional integration groups, as this can also create tension and contradictions between the participants.

Wang Wen, Executive Dean at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies (RDCY) and Deputy Dean of the Silk Road School at China's Renmin University, stressed that the West is now intensifying its attacks on the BRICS. In this regard, he identified three traps that the BRICS+ idea faces. First, it is a conflict trap – the idea of a conflict between the BRICS and the West promoted by Western countries. Second, it is a trap which would lead to the BRICS economies having excessive influence on the BRICS+ economies. In the context of possible stagnation generated by the global economic shocks of 2022, other countries involved in this format may also suffer from a recession in the BRICS 5 countries. Third, it is the trap of separation. In the West, many are trying to lure developing countries to them, and it is necessary that the countries participating in BRICS+ win something.

Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at South Africa's Institute for Global Dialogue pointed out the importance of not only the common features of the BRICS participants, but also the differences between them. "These differences should show the international community that in an increasingly complex world order, countries whose economies and governance systems are not very similar to each other have a mechanism to encourage cooperation. BRICS is an example of the viability and sustainability of such a partnership," he said. The proposal put forward in 2013 at the BRICS summit in South Africa was part of this trend towards inclusiveness, as it was connected to the creation of a mechanism aimed at involving the countries of the region that are not included in the group. From the development of such mechanisms, according to the expert, the idea of BRICS+ grows.
The 8th BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting Held (Состоялась 8-я встреча министров связи БРИКС) / China, July, 2022
Keywords: top_level_meeting

On 6 July 2022, the 8th BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting was held virtually in Beijing. Chaired by XIAO Yaqing, Minister of Industry and Information Technology of China, the Meeting was attended by South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Brazilian Deputy Minister of Communications Maximiliano Martinhão, Russian Federation Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Bella Cherkesova, Indian Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union ZHAO Houlin.

Minister XIAO said, President XI Jinping stressed at the XIV BRICS Summit that under the new circumstances, it is all the more important for BRICS countries to pursue development with open doors and boost cooperation with open arms, and pointed out that those who seize the opportunities of the new economy, such as big data and artificial intelligence, are in sync with the pulse of the times. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China looks forward to joining efforts with BRICS counterparts to implement the outcomes and consensus reached at the Summit, further consolidate the BRICS strategic partnership, deepen concrete cooperation on information and communication technologies (ICTs), and constantly strengthen institutional building, thus injecting strong impetus into high-quality BRICS development.

Minister XIAO stressed that the Chinese government has attached great importance to the development and application of ICTs, fully leveraging its strategic, fundamental and leading role. Efforts have been made to strengthen deployment of new information infrastructure such as 5G and data centers, accelerate innovative development of industrial Internet, and deepen integration of digital technologies with the real economy, thus empowering the transformation of traditional industries with emergence of new industries and business models. To promote people-centered development, the Chinese government is committed to providing accessible, affordable and high-quality information services for all. It is for the first time in the history that all administrative villages in China are covered with broadband network. China has been striving to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas and within regions, so that people could better enjoy digital life in a more equitable and inclusive manner.

Minister XIAO called for strengthened cooperation on the following priorities. First, to promote inclusive and enhanced connectivity among BRICS countries with accelerated development of ICT infrastructure as well as international submarine and terrestrial cables so as to make the benefits of digital development accessible to all. Second, to facilitate innovation-driven development through fostering an efficient and collaborative network for enterprises, academia and industries as well as an enabling ecosystem that benefits large enterprises and SMEs. It is encouraged to conduct joint research in areas such as 5G/6G, artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computing to unleash potentials for economic growth. Third, to empower digital, network-based and intelligent transformation of traditional industries to realize high-quality, cost-effective, green and safe development of the manufacturing sector. Fourth, to strengthen coordination under multilateral frameworks such as the International Telecommunication Union and explore the development of international rules on digital governance that reflect the views and respect the interests of all parties, in order to jointly create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for digital development.

The communications ministers and head of international organization attending the Meeting appreciated the constructive role played by the Chinese presidency and welcomed the progress of BRICS ICT cooperation achieved this year. The Meeting conducted in-depth discussions on the theme of Deepening Cooperation on Stronger, Greener and Healthier Development by Using ICTs to Achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and adopted the Declaration of the 8th BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting.

The 2nd Meeting of BRICS Working Group on ICT Cooperation Held
(Состоялось 2-е заседание Рабочей группы БРИКС по сотрудничеству в сфере ИКТ) / China, July, 2022
Keywords: cooperation, digital

The 2nd Meeting of BRICS Working Group on ICT cooperation and BRICS Institute of Future Networks (BIFN) Council took place virtually on 20, 27-28, and 30 June 2022. Chaired by the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, the Meeting was attended by representatives from line ministries and research institutions from BRICS countries.

The Chinese Chairship briefed the meeting on the arrangements of upcoming events, including the 8th BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting, the Digital BRICS Forum and BRICS Forum on Future Networks Innovation. The Meeting completed the consultation and reached consensus on the text of the Declaration of the 8th BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting and the Work Plan for BIFN Council.

Representatives commended the China Chairship for playing a constructive role in facilitating the discussion and consensus on the outcome documents, and noted that they will actively participate in the activities to be held in Digital BRICS Week to jointly explore deepening cooperation on stronger, greener, and healthier development by using ICTs to achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

(Source: Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China of the People's Republic of China)

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