Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 12.2023
2023.03.20 — 2023.03.26
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Russian-Chinese comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation for a New Era (Российско-китайское всестороннее партнерство и стратегическое сотрудничество в новую эпоху) / Russia, March, 2023
Keywords: top_level_meeting, vladimir_putin, xi_jinping, cooperation

President of China Xi Jinping was in Russia on a three-day state visit at Vladimir Putin's invitation. On March 20, the two leaders held a meeting. On March 21 Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping continued talks, informs The two leaders discussed current issues of the further development of the comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and China, and deepening cooperation on the international stage.

As part of Xi Jinping's state visit, Russia and China signed the Joint Statement on Deepening the Russian-Chinese Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation for a New Era, as well as the Joint Statement by the President of Russia and the President of China on the Plan to Promote the Key Elements of Russian-Chinese Economic Cooperation until 2030.

The package of documents signed during the visit includes an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the joint production of television programmes, as well as documents concerning cooperation between the National State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and the China Media Group, and on the exchange of information and cooperation between Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency and the Xinhua News Agency.

The relevant ministries signed memorandums of understanding aimed at deepening cooperation in trade shows and exhibitions, in the management and use of forest resources, in soybean production, as well as industrial and infrastructure cooperation under preferential terms in the Russian Far East.

The Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and the Chinese Academy of Sciences signed a Protocol on Strengthening Cooperation in Fundamental Scientific Research.

The "Rosatom" State Atomic Energy Corporation and the Chinese Atomic Energy Authority also signed a Comprehensive Long-term Cooperation Programme on fast neutron reactors and closed nuclear fuel cycle development.

In addition, the relevant state agencies signed memorandums of understanding and cooperation regarding consumer protection and deeper cooperation in the management of state companies.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin said in particular:

- Yesterday evening, we had a detailed discussion of all matters related to the bilateral agenda, as well as topical international and regional issues.

We have just completed our talks in a narrow format, where we had quite a meaningful and frank exchange of opinions on the potential we have for further expanding Russian-Chinese ties and better coordinating our actions on the international stage.

- Let me remind you that in December 2022, Mr Xi Jinping and I agreed during our talks via videoconference to consider setting new benchmarks for our cooperation, including both quantitative, as well as qualitative indicators. These agreements paved the way to the drafting of two major conceptual documents for this visit. I am referring to the Joint Statement on Deepening the Russian-Chinese Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation for a New Era, as well as the Joint Statement on the Plan to Promote the Key Elements of Russian-Chinese Economic Cooperation until 2030. These two documents set forth long-term goals for the governments, businesses and civil society of our two countries in terms of delivering on the objectives we share, which deal with facilitating national development in all areas.

- Despite the consequences of the pandemic and the sanctions pressure, trade reached a historic high of $185 billion in 2022. This year, we expect Russian-Chinese trade not only to reach $200 billion, as we agreed with our friends earlier, several years ago, but to go beyond this threshold. As I have already said, trade increased by more than 30 percent over the past year.

- The project to align the EAEU and the Chinese President's Belt and Road initiative opens up further potential for our economies.

- When it comes to investment, our countries have compiled a package of 80 important and promising bilateral projects in various fields worth around $165 billion.

- Russian gas supplies to China are to reach at least 98 billion cubic metres by 2030, plus 100 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas. We have just discussed a good project, the new Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline across Mongolia. We have reached agreement on most of the deal's parameters. Russia will export 50 billion cubic metres of gas from reliable, stable supplies.

- It is important that our national currencies are increasingly used in bilateral trade. We should continue promoting settlements in national currencies, and expand the reciprocal presence of financial and banking structures in our countries' markets. As I have already said, at this stage, two-thirds of payments under trade deals between our countries are made in rubles and yuan.

- We support using Chinese yuan in transactions between the Russian Federation and its partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America. I am sure that these types of payment will grow between Russian businesses and their counterparts in third countries – as I said – payments in yuan.

- Industrial cooperation is deepening. We have good experience working together in civil aircraft construction, shipbuilding, and auto manufacturing. We stand ready to support Chinese businesses in replacing the Western enterprises that left Russia.

- Trade in agricultural produce is growing even faster – by 41.4 percent in 2022, when it reached $7 billion in terms of value; importantly, the growth was balanced on both sides – by equal amounts… Due to these improvements, we can expect further growth in Russian food exports to the capacious Chinese market and will contribute to raising the level of food security in both countries.

- Technological sovereignty is the key to sustainability. We propose further improving strategic partnerships in specific industries. By combining our wealth of research capacity and industrial capabilities, Russia and China can become world leaders in information technology, cyber security, and artificial intelligence.

- China has become Russia's leading partner in exploring the economic potential of the Far East. Today investors from China are implementing 52 projects worth $10.8 billion in total on priority development territories, as well as the free port of Vladivostok.

- In total, Russia and China now have 366 partnerships, including 135 between regions and 231 between municipalities; and 59 Russian regions have agreements with Chinese regions. About 100 municipalities have sister municipalities and partners in China.

- The transport and logistics infrastructure is being improved. Our countries have a long land border, so the formation of China-Europe railway and road corridors through Russian territory remains an absolute priority in order to meet the needs of growing cargo and passenger traffic.

- We believe the cooperation with Chinese partners in developing the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route is promising. As I have said, we are ready to create a joint working body to develop the Northern Sea Route.

- I believe that our multipronged and mutually beneficial cooperation will continue to grow stronger for the benefit of our countries' peoples.

President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping said in particular:

- The scope of our sphere of cooperation is constantly expanding. Our cooperation has achieved significant results. Further development of interaction is being successfully implemented.

- In China, this year marks the beginning of the full realisation of the spirit of the 20th Congress of the CPC. We will intensify the formation of a new development architecture, prioritise high-quality development, and comprehensively promote Chinese modernisation.

- I know that Russia is rapidly implementing national development goals until 2030. I propose strengthening coordination and interaction in order to derive additional benefits from practical cooperation.

- Mr. President, I am prepared to join you in outlining a plan for the development of bilateral relations and practical cooperation in the interests of the prosperity and revival of China and Russia.

Vladimir Putin also made statement for the media following the Russian-Chinese talks (photo). He said in particular:

- When discussing topical international and regional problems, the President and I affirmed that Russia and China's views on them are identical or very close.

- We noted the rise of tensions in many regions of the world, and the accumulation of conflict and crisis potential in the global economy and politics. We can see that the practice of applying illegitimate, politically biased sanctions and other restrictions, and the use of other means of unfair competition in the economic struggle is expanding.

- Seemingly unshakable principles, such as non-interference in internal affairs, the rights of countries to a sovereign model of development, freedom of trade, access to modern technologies and even to education, are being violated. And in this context, Russia and China strongly oppose any state or bloc seeking to harm the legitimate interests of any other country in order to obtain military, political and economic advantages.

- Of course, we did not ignore developments around Ukraine. We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when the West and Kiev are ready for it. However, so far, we have not seen such readiness on their part.

- Moreover, I was just informed that while the Chinese President and I were discussing the possibility of implementing the Chinese peace plan – and the Chinese President devoted considerable attention to his peace initiatives during our one-on-one conversation yesterday – the UK deputy defence minister announced that the United Kingdom would supply not only tanks to Ukraine, but also depleted uranium shells.

- It seems that the West really has decided to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian – no longer in words, but in deeds. But in this regard, I would like to note that if all this comes to pass, then Russia will have to respond accordingly. What I mean is that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component.

- At the same time, I would like to emphasise that Russia and China pursue an independent and sovereign foreign policy. We jointly work to create a more just and democratic multipolar world order, which should be based on the central role of the UN, its Security Council, international law, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

- We consider it important to continue to maintain close coordination within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS, to work in conjunction with the G20, APEC and many other multilateral platforms, and, of course, to continue efforts to link integration processes within the EAEU and the Chinese Belt and Road initiative with an eye to creating the Greater Eurasian Partnership in the future.

                Malema assures Putin he has his back in SA (Малема уверяет Путина, что в ЮАР его поддерживают) / South Africa, March, 2023
                Keywords: political_issues, summit
                South Africa

                BeyondWords Johannesburg - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has vowed to protect Russian President Vladimir Putin against a recent warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which intends to force South Africa to arrest him should he step into the country.

                This past week, the ICC, which South Africa is a signatory to, issued a warrant of arrest for Putin for allegedly committing war crimes in Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

                Adv. Mkhwebane denies claims of 'reckless litigation' 1 week ago
                With South Africa set to host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China at the 15th BRICS Summit from August 22 to 24, speculation has been rife as to the country's response to the possibility of being forced to enforce this warrant of arrest should he travel to the country for this summit.

                South Africa was caught up in a similar situation in 2015 when it did not arrest former president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir while he was attending the African Union summit in Johannesburg.

                Political parties went to court to challenge the government for not arresting Al-Bashir, who was later toppled in his country.

                However, Malema, who addressed the media on its national shutdown at the party's headquarters in Johannesburg, said he will escort Putin himself to ensure that he does not get arrested in the country. He said that many Western leaders committed war crimes but were never arrested or detained for them, calling this Western hypocrisy at its worst.

                "To the ICC, we say Putin is welcome here. No one is going to arrest Putin. If need be, we will go and fetch Putin from the airport to his meeting. He will address and finish all his meetings, and we will take him back to the airport. We are not going to be told by these hypocrites of the ICC who know the real violators of human rights and know the murderers of this world," he said.

                The BRICS group brings together some 3.2 billion people. After the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, BRICS is among the largest bloc of countries by total population.

                According to Timeslive, Minister Naledi Pandor of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has criticised the ICC for this warrant of arrest.

                "We had hoped that other forms of warrants would be issued by the ICC because there are many countries and leaders who have practised very serious abuses in situations of conflict but they remain unscathed in terms of the ICC," Pandor told Timeslive after a meeting with her Sri Lankan counterpart in Pretoria on Wednesday.

                Speaking to The Star on Thursday, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations, Clayson Monyela, said it is presumptuous and immature for people to speculate on whether Putin will make an appearance in South Africa for the upcoming BRICS summit.

                Monyela said the Kremlin has not communicated who will be coming to the country for the summit or whether it will be virtual or held in person, adding that even the ICC has not written to South Africa in its bid to try to enforce the warrant of arrest.

                "First things first. South Africa has not received any communication from the ICC to arrest Putin. It is therefore presumptuous and immature for the media to speculate on whether Putin will visit South Africa for the BRICS Summit.

                "For all we know, the summit could be hybrid, which means it can be both in person and virtually. As such, he may just decide to only appear virtually or not come at all because, as you might know, heads of state do not just travel. They announce their travel schedule ahead of time. For us to be asked to comment on this matter is a bit too presumptuous to say the least," Monyela said.

                President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said while they noted the warrant issued by the ICC, the country maintained that the conflict in Ukraine can be resolved through peaceful means.

                Magwenya said between now and the summit, it would be in touch with all key stakeholders.

                "With respect to the ICC, we note the report on the warrant of arrest that the ICC has issued against President Putin. It remains South Africa's commitment and a very strong desire that the conflict in the Ukraine be resolved peacefully through negotiations.

                "We as a government are cognisant of our legal obligation. However, between now and the summit, we will remain engaged with relevant stakeholders with respect to the summit and other related issues," said Magwenya
                              Putin on guest list for BRICS summit in SA, as Pretoria tackles ICC for lacking impartiality (Путин в списке гостей саммита БРИКС в ЮАР, поскольку Претория критикует ICC за отсутствие беспристрастности) / South Africa, March, 2023
                              Keywords: political_issues, summit
                              South Africa

                              Pretoria – Government has indicated that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been formally invited to attend the 15th BRICS summit scheduled for August, but the matter has become a headache for Pretoria after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant of arrest for the Russian leader.

                              The ICC, which South Africa is a signatory to, has issued the warrant of arrest for Putin for allegedly committing war crimes in Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. South Africa would be obliged to arrest Putin and hand him over if he sets foot on its soil.

                              However, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor, in a interview with SAfm, highlighted that the ICC has not been "even-handed" as an arbiter in international affairs.

                              Pandor said while she has not said the ICC is "wrong" in issuing the warrant of arrest against Putin, she expressed deep misgivings regarding the international court's decision, arguing that the ICC has not been an impartial arbiter on the global arena, turning a blind eye to other atrocities.

                              "Well, I have not used the word 'wrong', but I expressed a view of even-handedness. I believe there are many atrocities that are occurring in the world, and all human beings should be protected – not those living in particular regions or countries," she said.

                              Minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO The minister said she understands that many South Africans are concerned about Pretoria's "reticent" approach with regards to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, given the strong historical bonds between Russia and South Africa and the massive support during the struggle against apartheid.

                              "I have found actually that there are many South Africans who believe that the government is being rather reticent to Russia, given the history. So, there are different opinions across the country, it is not all the way an attitude of total objection to Russia," she said.

                              "There are some saying the Russians stood with us in the dark days of the history of this country. Why are we here reticent to speak out? And we said, no, we are concerned about the situation of the people of Ukraine. What we would want to do is to be in a position where we can continue to engage with both countries, to persuade them towards peace."

                              On Friday, Pandor said stemming from the 2015 court debacle when South Africa did not arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who had an ICC warrant of arrest, Pretoria understands that it has a legal obligation in line with the ICC directive.

                              "We are awaiting a refreshed legal opinion on the matter, but that is the position as I understand it at the moment. We continue to be a member State of the Rome treaty," said Pandor.

                              She said the matter of Putin's invitation and the ICC warrant of arrest would be discussed at a Cabinet meeting, once she has a legal opinion.

                              Pandor conceded that withdrawing the invitation sent out to Putin at this stage would possibly stymie the landmark BRICS summit set for South Africa.

                              "Probably it would. I suspect everybody would then have lesser interest in attending, so it is a matter we need to give attention to. I am sure the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) will speak to other heads of State.

                              "It (BRICS) is a forum which the five leaders have a very close relationship, and they are in constant contact, so I think they would be speaking now.

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                              "But for our purposes, we must look at the legal position, discuss and arrive at a desired outcome for the purposes of South Africa.

                              "As we have said in the past, we have always had this concern that there isn't an even-handed approach by the ICC, and you will recall that South Africa had been concerned about its (ICC) tendency to focus on African leaders.

                              "We had discussed this in the context of the AU and had agreed that, let us try and see whether the institution would reform and have an even-handed approach where all abuses of international law receive equal treatment. And I think that is still a challenge for the ICC in particular, given what is happening in Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and many other areas," said Pandor.

                              South Africa is chairing the BRICS group of countries this year under the theme: "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism".

                              South Africa is set to host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China at the 15th BRICS Summit from August 22 to 24.

                              The BRICS group brings together some 3.2 billion people.

                              On Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema weighed in on the matter, vowing to protect Putin if the Russian leader comes to South Africa for the summit.

                              "Putin is welcome here, and no one is going to arrest Putin. If need be, we are going to fetch Putin from the airport, take him to his meeting, where he will address and finish his meetings, and we will take him back to the airport," Malema told journalists in Joburg.

                              "We are not going to be told by these hypocrites of the International Criminal Court who know the real violators of human rights, the murderers of this world.

                              Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) "The former prime minister (of England) Tony Blair admitted that he made a horrible mistake when it comes to Saddam Hussein – they have not been charged today. Bush is still there, and they have not been charged. Barack Obama killed (Muammar) Gaddafi, and nothing has happened."

                              Malema said Libya has been destroyed and is unable to recover "because of America".

                              "We know very well that where Nato gets involved, those are terrorists. We know very well that when the US says we are going to install peace, there will no longer be peace as long as America visits that place. We do not want ICC hypocrisy to apply here in our country," he said.

                              "President Putin is welcome; we know our friends, we know the people who liberated us, we know the people who supported us. In Cuito Cuanavale (a town in Angola), the weapons that were used there that led to the liberation of South Africa were coming from Russia.

                              "Russia supplied us with weapons in Cuito Cuanavale and Cuba supplied us with soldiers – the MK (uMkhonto we Sizwe) was drunk," he added.

                              South Africa was caught up in a similar situation in 2015 when it did not arrest former president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir when he was attending the African Union summit in Johannesburg.

                              Political parties went to court to challenge the government for not arresting Al-Bashir, who was later toppled in his country.

                              Putin is expected to attend the BRICS summit with Ramaphosa, President Xi Jinping of China, President Lula da Silva of Brazil and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

                              Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik/ AFP Xi has met Putin this week in the Chinese leader's first visit to Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.

                              Chinese President Xi Jinping: Picture: File On the other hand, the DA said Ramaphosa should not allow Putin to attend the BRICS summit, unless he intends to arrest the Russian leader the moment he sets foot on South African soil.

                              "The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to prioritise the country's reputation and well-being over that of Russian president Vladimir Putin and ensure that he is not among the leaders set to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in August," said DA Member of Parliament Darren Bergman.

                              "The ICC's issuing of a warrant for Putin's arrest for alleged war crimes should serve as a final warning to the ANC that while the governing party might make light of the invasion of a neighbouring country, the international community does not."

                              The ruling ANC has refused to be drawn on whether the South African government would act in line with the ICC directive to arrest Putin if he set foot in the country.

                              ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said they still wanted a peaceful solution to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

                                            Toxic cloud of secrets and lies over 2013 Zuma-Putin nuclear deal hovers above Busisiwe Mkhwebane's historic legal battle (Ядовитое облако секретов и лжи о ядерной сделке между Зумой и Путиным в 2013 году нависло над исторической судебной тяжбой Бусизиве Мхвебане) / South Africa, March, 2023
                                            Keywords: political_issues
                                            South Africa

                                            Where exactly does Busisiwe Mkhwebane fit into the greater State Capture nexus that flourished during the Zuma years? The question is about to be answered at her impeachment inquiry.

                                            BeyondWords Former president Jacob Zuma's secret and potentially ruinous nuclear deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 hovers like a toxic cloud over Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's Section 194 impeachment inquiry.

                                            The real meat and potatoes are expected to be served piping hot next week when the inquiry's evidence leader, Advocate Nazreen Bawa, is expected to cut through the murky politics and theatrics that have bedevilled the historic two-year process.

                                            Also lurking in the mix are the Guptas – benefactors of Zuma and his enablers. State Capture contracts involving the Gupta enterprise cost South African taxpayers R57-billion over the years.

                                            Mkhwebane is a firm favourite of the EFF, with which she has happily cooperated. She is also a fan of Zuma, regardless of his shameful fall from office and the resultant economic devastation.

                                            The suspended Public Protector has presented herself throughout her impeachment inquiry as a champion of the poor who fought off powerful "forces", "untouchables" and "capital", viewed by her and the loose band of Radical Economic Transformation (RET) acolytes as a threat to Zuma's utopian vision of South Africa. She is, she has argued, a victim of a political "witch-hunt" cooked up by the opposition DA in cahoots with a faction of the governing ANC.

                                            Mkhwebane in the eye of the storm In April 2017, thousands of South Africans across the country took to the streets after Zuma had fired the finance minister and his deputy, Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, respectively, leading to South Africa's slide into "junk" status and calls for Zuma to resign.

                                            Gordhan had been shuffled out of the Cabinet by Zuma once before. He was replaced in 2014 by Nhlanhla Nene, who served as finance minister until December 2015. Nene testified to the Zondo Commission that he had faced enormous pressure to sign off on the nuclear deal.

                                            He was replaced by David van Rooyen, but after another national outcry Zuma began to position former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe for the job. Molefe was prepared to fling open the doors of the Treasury, smoothing the way for the deal with Russia and Rosatom as well as others with Denel Asia, SAA and PetroSA.

                                            Instead, Gordhan found himself back in the hot seat with the keys to the kingdom safely back in his pocket.

                                            That is until Zuma's midnight reshuffle in 2017, when he replaced Gordhan with Malusi Gigaba, a good friend of the Guptas. Gigaba was thankfully axed when Cyril Ramaphosa beat Zuma to lead the ANC that December.

                                            So far, more than 20 witnesses have delivered shocking testimony to Mkhwebane's impeachment inquiry of how the State Security Agency (SSA) – heavily implicated in the High Level Review Panel and the State Capture Report – involved itself with her office, including Arthur Fraser, its former director-general.

                                            The SSA has been accused of running an illegal parallel agency with access to unlimited public funds in order to bolster Zuma's personal and political power. Many members of Zuma's Cabinet at the time have also been implicated, including former minister of state security David Mahlobo, who remains in active government service.

                                            The impeachment committee consists of 26 members representing 14 political parties in the National Assembly. They are expected to vote on Mkhwebane's impeachment (or not) before the end of her term of office in October 2023.

                                            The inquiry has heard that Mkhwebane had omitted her meetings with the SSA and Zuma, which took place during her CIEX-Bankorp (later Absa) investigation, from her Rule 52 court record. Witnesses have also revealed how Mkhwebane, soon after her appointment by Zuma, began to weaponise her office, reviving old investigations to target specifically Gordhan, the Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

                                            Mkhwebane's investigations, including later probes into Ramaphosa's campaign funding, were kept on a tight leash, with only her and two trusted investigators working on them, circumventing all quality controls at her office.

                                            In an email Mkhwebane sent to an investigator that was shown at her inquiry, Gordhan was described as "a threat of democracy" who needed to be "stopped before he causes more harm in the guise of cleaning".

                                            Mkhwebane has consistently insisted that she has always acted "without fear or favour" as the head of an independent Chapter 9 institution.

                                            For a detailed breakdown of the secrecy surrounding Mkhwebane calling Pravin Gordhan "a threat to democracy", and other bombshells at the Public Protector impeachment hearing, read Karyn Maughan and Kirsten Pearson's Nuclear: Inside South Africa's Secret Deal, published in 2022.

                                            Without fear or favour A photograph of a smiling Mkhwebane holding a copy of Zuma's hot-off-the-press "biography", Jacob Zuma Speaks, was circulated widely on social media soon after the book's release in December 2021.

                                            She also had no qualms about tweeting a recommendation of A History of Central Banking and the Enslavement of Mankind by the Hitler-loving Holocaust denier Stephen Goodson, in April 2017.

                                            Mkhwebane was clearly doing deep research for her investigations into central banks. So much so, the committee has heard, that an SSA official had in fact provided the wording for her suggested changes to the Constitution in her final CIEX report.

                                            Mkhwebane released this report with its attempts to alter the constitutional mandate of the South African Reserve Bank in June 2017. Her recommendations are among the actions that have brought her before the impeachment committee.

                                            In April 2017, Zuma had initiated a meeting with the South African Reserve Bank governor, Lesetja Kganyago, ostensibly to "discuss the economy" – this with Gordhan and Jonas' firing fresh in mind. Jonas later testified that he had turned down a bribe from the Gupta family in 2015 already.

                                            Testifying at the Zondo Commission, Jonas set out how Gupta patriarch Ajay Gupta had offered him R600-million, ostensibly to smooth the family's path should he be appointed finance minister.

                                            Part of the plan, Jonas testified, was the firing of then Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile, head of tax and financial sector policy Ismail Momoniat, senior technocrat Andrew Donaldson and chief procurement officer Kenneth Brown. All of them have since left the Treasury.

                                            Enter – and exit – Brian Molefe Molefe had resigned as CEO of Eskom in 2016 after serving only 11 months following the release of the bombshell State of Capture report by outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Molefe, it was found, had close links with the Guptas and their "Saxonwold Shebeen".

                                            Molefe was the chess piece Zuma planned to move into place, and he was swiftly shuffled into Parliament and hastily sworn in as an MP with the excuse that he had been nominated to fill a vacancy on the North West list of ANC MPs.

                                            But with Zuma's plan thwarted and the Treasury out of reach and still putting the brakes on the Rosatom deal, Molefe was returned triumphant to Eskom in May 2017.

                                            A vocal supporter of nuclear power, he immediately began pushing for the energy utility to invest in it. He had embarked on a three-week course in nuclear reactor technology for executives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US in 2016.

                                            VBS, the Guptas and the banks In June 2017, Mkhwebane released her CIEX report finding the South African Reserve Bank's bailout of Bankorp between 1985 and 1995 had been unlawful and the Constitution should be changed.

                                            Kganyago immediately filed an urgent application to have the remedial action set aside. In an interview, he stated that the closure of the Gupta family's accounts by commercial banks in mid-2016, as well as the Venda Building Society (VBS) mutual bank being placed under curatorship, had "sparked a political fightback".

                                            In August 2017, the South African Reserve Bank won its application to have Mkhwebane's remedial action to change its constitutional mandate set aside. She had been wrong in law, the court said in a scathing judgment.

                                            VBS was declared insolvent in March 2018 after defrauding its clients of about R2-­billion, some of which was redirected to EFF deputy leader Floyd ­Shivambu's brother Brian, through his company Grand Azania.

                                            In 2012, it had been Madonsela and SARS that revealed that EFF leader Julius Malema, then the leader of the ANC Youth League, was using his Ratanang Family Trust to receive questionable income to support a visibly extravagant lifestyle.

                                            The National Prosecuting Authority, led during Zuma's tenure by a series of discredited heads, including Shaun Abrahams, dropped the criminal case against Malema. It has been dead in the water ever since (although you never know).

                                            Then National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams during a media conference on 23 May 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy)

                                            A now restored SARS, which had suffered prolonged and sustained attack during Zuma's presidency, succeeded in shutting down Grand Azania, Brian Shivambu's company, earlier this month.

                                            SARS had applied for the liquidation of Grand Azania in July 2021, when the company was unable to pay its R11.5-million tax debt.

                                            Why RET forces needed Mkhwebane On the boil since 2011, National Treasury and Gordhan only learnt of the face-to-face nuclear agreement with Putin in 2013, when the then Department of Energy asked for a "tax incentive" structure for the deal.

                                            In 2017, the man who stood in the doorway between Zuma, Putin, the nuclear deal and the voracious Gupta family was Gordhan.

                                            In January that year, the ANC – still led by Zuma but not for long – began pushing for the release of Madonsela's provisional report on the Bankorp-Absa bailout.

                                            Gordhan, it must be remembered, was the former head of SARS. During his tenure between 1999 and 2009, the institution had clamped down on tax evasion, particularly in the tobacco industry.

                                            If Gordhan was not going to go down by hook, he would have to go down by crook.

                                            In 2014, shortly after his appointment by Zuma to head the revenue service, Tom Moyane began to restructure SARS on the advice of the now disgraced international consultancy Bain & Company. Bain & Co earned about R2-billion in public sector contracts doing business in South Africa.

                                            Bain whistle-blower Athol Williams revealed that Vittorio Massone, Bain's managing partner in South Africa, had met with Zuma on at least 20 occasions between 2012 and 2016. This was ostensibly to discuss "reshaping the South African economy", including "the establishment of a presidential agency that would bypass other state executive bodies".

                                            Moyane soon set about enacting the bold plans, deploying fake news and propaganda about an apparent "rogue" unit – set up with Gordhan's alleged approval – that had been targeting politicians.

                                            The target was again on Gordhan's back.

                                            The Sunday Times was later implicated in publishing fake news about SARS's High-Risk Investigative Unit, which had made extraordinary progress. Moyane's attempt to purge SARS of corruption-busters led to a mass exodus of staff.

                                            This report, too, has landed Mkhwebane in front of the impeachment inquiry.

                                            Shaky start Shortly after Madonsela's term ended, Mkhwebane laid a criminal charge against her for allegedly violating the Public Protector Act by "leaking" the audio of an interview she had had with Zuma while in office.

                                            Madonsela had left office after releasing her "black swan" – her damning State of Capture report. It later led to the establishment of the State Capture Commission headed by then Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

                                            The audio clip was released on 13 October 2016, the day before Madonsela's extraordinary term of office came to an end. She was still the Public Protector at the time and later said she had been within her rights to release the interview.

                                            That Zuma himself could have charged Madonsela did not cross Mkhwebane's mind, it appears.

                                            Also, 2017 was the year the #GuptaLeaks hit the headlines, confirming what real investigative journalists had been exposing all along.

                                            Mkhwebane appears to be the last woman standing. For how much longer, we will soon find out. DM168

                                            This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

                                                          Investment and Finance
                                                          Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                          Egypt officially becomes member of BRICS New Development Bank (Египет официально стал членом Нового банка развития БРИКС) / Russia, March, 2023
                                                          Keywords: ndb

                                                          SHANGHAI, March 22. /TASS/. Egypt has officially become a new member of the New Development Bank (NDB) created by BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) after completing the necessary procedures, according to an update on the composition of the bank posted on the website of the financial institution on Wednesday.

                                                          Egypt was officially given status as a member on February 20, 2023, though a respective notification only appeared on March 22, according to the update.

                                                          The NDB board of governors authorized the bank to hold official talks with new potential member states in late 2020. After successful talks, the NBD approved Egypt's accession in December 2021, while in September 2021 a similar decision was made regarding the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay and Bangladesh. With the exception of Uruguay, they all became members of the bank after jumping through the necessary hoops.

                                                          The New Development bank was set up by BRICS nations on the basis of the intergovernmental agreement signed at the sixth BRICS summit in Fortaleza in July 2014. The bank's goal is to finance infrastructure projects and sustainable development projects in BRICS member states and developing countries. The bank previously receivedan "АА+" international credit rating from Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings, allowing it to effectively attract long-term funding on international and local capital markets.

                                                          Since its founding, the bank has approved more than 90 projects totaling $32 bln in support of such areas as transportation, water, clean energy, digital and social infrastructure, as well as urban construction.

                                                                        BRICS plays significant role in defining global agenda — Federation Council Speaker (БРИКС играет важную роль в определении глобальной повестки — спикер Совета Федерации) / Russia, March, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: quotation, global_governance

                                                                        The leadership of BRICS countries is necessary in order to develop a uniting course towards the establishment of a truly multipolar system of international relations, based on universally recognized norms of international law and key clauses of the UN Charter, Valentina Matviyenko said

                                                                        MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. Russia values cooperation with South Africa within the BRICS format, which plays a serious role in defining the global agenda despite the escalated international situation, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said at the meeting with the Chairman of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo during the Russia-Africa international parliamentary conference.

                                                                        "We value our cooperation within the BRICS. This year, South Africa assumed presidency of this important integrational platform, which, despite the escalated international situation, continues to play a very significant role in defining the global agenda. And today, like never before, the leadership of BRICS countries is necessary in order to develop a uniting course towards the establishment of a truly multipolar system of international relations, based on universally recognized norms of international law and key clauses of the UN Charter," the Speaker said.

                                                                        She underscored that Russian lawmakers particularly apprecieate that South Africa is represented at the conference by speakers of both chambers of the parliament.

                                                                        "This, of course, indicates special relations between our countries, parliamentary cooperation and out interest in further development of the international strategic partnership," Matviyenko said.
                                                                                      China-Russia summit: What economic goals ahead? (Китайско-российский саммит: какие экономические цели впереди?) / China, March, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

                                                                                      Editor's note: Yaroslav Lissovolik, founder of "BRICS+ Analytics," is a member of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

                                                                                      The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russia to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to feature a wide range of issues for discussion, with bilateral economic cooperation being one of the most critical areas that will need an in-depth analysis and an ambitious action plan.

                                                                                      As stated by the Chinese president in his article titled "Forging Ahead to Open a New Chapter of China-Russia Friendship, Cooperation and Common Development," published in the Russian media on March 20, both countries "need to raise both the quality and quantity of investment and economic cooperation and step up policy coordination to create favorable conditions for the high-quality development of our investment cooperation."

                                                                                      The track-record of intensifying the China-Russia economic cooperation in 2022 will need to be assessed with due consideration with regard to both the achievements as well as those areas where there remains substantial scope for boosting bilateral ties.

                                                                                      On the bright side, there is the record-high trade turnover between China and Russia posted in 2022. A figure of around $190 billion in trade turnover comes close to the newly established $200 billion target for bilateral trade set for 2024. With annual growth in trade turnover reaching 34.3 percent in 2022, the momentum appears strong for the $200 billion target to be reached well ahead of schedule.

                                                                                      China's optimization of COVID-19 measures and the liberalization of transportation regulations (including with respect to direct flights between China and Russia) will likely boost bilateral trade further, including in the services sector (most notably in the tourist segment).

                                                                                      On the other hand, figures on investment from China to Russia, most importantly long-term foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, show a significantly more moderate growth pace compared to the above-mentioned trade growth figures. The FDI data published by the Eurasian Development Bank suggests that the stock of FDI from China to Russia grew by 27.4 percent from 2016 to mid-2022, implying an annual average growth rate of a little over 3 percent. According to the forecasts coming from the Eurasian Development Bank, growth in FDI inflows from China into Russia is likely to continue, albeit still at a moderate pace.

                                                                                      Against the backdrop of these trends in trade and investment, the use of national currencies will very likely be another point of discussion at the China-Russia talks. Last year saw a substantial rise in the use of the rouble and the Chinese yuan in bilateral trade transactions. In the course of 2022, the share of the rouble and the yuan in Russia's export operations increased from 12 percent and 0.5 percent to 34 percent and 16 percent, respectively; the share of the U.S. dollar and the Euro declined to less than 50 percent by end-2022.

                                                                                      As regards Russia's imports the share of the yuan increased from 4 percent to 23 percent, while that of the Russian rouble declined from 29 percent to 27 percent, the share of the U.S. dollar and the Euro declined from 65 percent to 46 percent.

                                                                                      The scenery along the Moscow River in Moscow, Russia, March 13, 2023. /Xinhua

                                                                                      In spite of the impressive scale of de-dollarization in bilateral trade, there is still ample scope to further increase the use of national currencies. This should be made possible by greater use of national and regional payment systems – not only on a bilateral basis, but also in the broader framework of BRICS via the introduction of the long-awaited BRICS Pay system.

                                                                                      Another possible venue to de-dollarization that may be discussed at the summit may be the launching of a new BRICS reserve currency – a project that Putin unveiled in mid-2022. The future of this new currency dubbed R5 (all five currencies of BRICS countries start with a letter "R") to a significant degree will depend of the readiness of both China and Russia to pursue a coordinated approach to launching such an undertaking that may prove to be critical not only for the BRICS proper, but for the broader realm of the developing world.

                                                                                      To forge ahead with greater de-dollarization, it is critical to ensure greater coordination in international economic organizations. This is particularly important for the advancement of the global role of such groupings as BRICS that have taken on a rising prominence on the international arena, particularly after the successful BRICS chairmanship of China in 2022. Both countries play a crucial role in making BRICS a dynamic, open and inclusive platform, with one of the near-term issues being that of BRICS expansion and the possibility of the inclusion of new large emerging markets into the BRICS core.

                                                                                      In the end, the meeting between the leaders of China and Russia will present an opportunity to build on the strong momentum in boosting bilateral economic cooperation. Apart from the rising prominence of Global South, there is the resurgence of economic concerns in the West – against the backdrop of rising fragilities in the financial sector in the U.S. and Europe, boosting bilateral economic ties between China and Russia may be seen as lowering the susceptibility to the rising frequency of crisis waves emanating from developed economies.

                                                                                      (If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

                                                                                                    Political Events
                                                                                                    Political events in the public life of BRICS
                                                                                                    Decision on Putin's trip to BRICS summit in South Africa hasn't been made yet — Kremlin (Решение о поездке Путина на саммит БРИКС в ЮАР еще не принято — Кремль) / Russia, March, 2023
                                                                                                    Keywords: political_issues, summit

                                                                                                    Russia is confident that South Africa will be able to ensure the effective work of all delegations at the upcoming BRICS summit, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday

                                                                                                    MOSCOW, March 24. /TASS/. The decision about Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to the BRICS summit in South Africa, which is scheduled for this summer, hasn't been made yet, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

                                                                                                    "No, the decision hasn't been made yet," he said, when asked whether Putin will attend the summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

                                                                                                    The 15th BRICS summit will be held in the South African city of Durban on August 22-24. It was earlier reported that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had sent out invitations to the leaders of the member countries to come to the Republic of South Africa to participate in the event.

                                                                                                    Russia is confident that South Africa will be able to ensure the effective work of all delegations at the upcoming BRICS summit, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. She said that the actions of the International Criminal Court against Russian citizens are legally null and void, and under international law, high-ranking government officials enjoy absolute immunity, which the ICC can't override.

                                                                                                                  World of Work
                                                                                                                  SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                                                                  Dilma Rousseff elected to office of NDB President — press service (Дилма Русеф избрана президентом НБР — пресс-служба) / Russia, March, 2023
                                                                                                                  Keywords: ndb

                                                                                                                  The New Development Bank was established by BRICS countries on the basis of the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2014

                                                                                                                  SHANGHAI, March 24. /TASS/. Ex-president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff was elected as the President of the New Development Bank (NDB) created by BRICS countries, the financial institution said on Friday.

                                                                                                                  "On March 24, 2023, the Board of Governors of the New Development Bank (NDB) unanimously elected H.E. Mrs. Dilma Vana Rousseff as the President of the Bank, effective immediately, in full accordance with the Articles of Agreement of the New Development Bank and the procedures of the President election," the Bank said.

                                                                                                                  The New Development Bank was established by BRICS countries on the basis of the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2014. The goal of bank's operation is to finance infrastructural projects and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries and developing economies.

                                                                                                                                BRICS, SCO nations interested in cooperation in Arctic — Russian ministry (Страны БРИКС и ШОС заинтересованы в сотрудничестве в Арктике — МИД России) / Russia, March, 2023
                                                                                                                                Keywords: cooperation

                                                                                                                                It is noted that the Arctic agenda is becoming more global

                                                                                                                                YAKUTSK, March 22. /TASS/. BRICS and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) member states take interest in cooperation in the Arctic region, Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador-At-Large, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council Nikolay Korchunov said on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                "More and more countries take interest in the work in the Arctic region. We see the interest of both Central Asian countries and member states of BRCIS, SCO and other integrations," he said at a plenary session of the conference devoted to issues of climate change and permafrost thaw.

                                                                                                                                "In this respect the launch of the initiative suggesting interaction and cooperation through existing poles, the Arctic, Antarctic and highland Asia, with large permafrost masses focused, seems interesting, and we hope that this initiative will give a boost to understanding of the processes that our planet's climate system faces," Korchunov added.

                                                                                                                                The Arctic agenda is becoming more global, he noted. "The Arctic is opening, though we would like this opening to occur on the principles of respect and maintenance of the vulnerable Arctic environment, careful attitude to peoples that live there, and to trigger sustainable development, rely on the concept excluding the accumulation of environmental damage," Korchunov concluded.

                                                                                                                                              New discoveries and advances ranging from the BRICS countries to Israel, Japan and South Korea (Новые открытия и достижения от стран БРИКС до Израиля, Японии и Южной Кореи) / Greece, March, 2023
                                                                                                                                              Keywords: expert_opinion, innovations

                                                                                                                                              In the previous article we discussed new discoveries and scientific advances ranging from the United States of America to Russia, Great Britain, Germany and Finland. In this article we will look at breakthroughs in further countries.

                                                                                                                                              For the first time the Hayabusa 2 probe of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) has brought back gas from asteroid 162173 Ryugu (the orbit of which is close to that of the Earth) discovered in 1999. The mission was launched on 3 December. On 27 June 2018, the probe reached the asteroid orbiting it at a distance of about 20 kilometres. After about one year and a half of measurements and surveys, the probe began its manoeuvres to approach the Earth on 13 November 2019, carrying the samples collected on Ryugu's surface in a capsule. On 6 December 2020, the capsule containing the samples collected on the asteroid re-entered the Earth's atmosphere to land in the Australian desert, while the Hayabusa 2 probe continued its mission by heading into deep space to reach the 1998 KY26 asteroid.

                                                                                                                                              The analysis of these gases may reveal the history of the aforementioned celestial body and help scientists further clarify the history of the solar system as it evolved. Japanese scientists detected more than twenty amino acids in the samples collected by the Hayabusa 2 probe. This is the first evidence of the existence of amino acids outside of Earth and has important implications for understanding how these vital organic molecules arrived on Earth. The analysis of the samples also showed that water on Earth may have been brought by asteroids from the outer edge of the solar system. The latest research unravels the mystery of how the ocean formed on Earth billions of years ago.

                                                                                                                                              Scientists at Hokkaido University discovered that essential pyrimidine nitrogen bases (found in nucleic acids) – which make up DNA and RNA – may have been brought to Earth by carbon-rich meteorites. The research team analysed three of these meteorites and, in addition to the compounds previously detected in them, the aforementioned pyrimidine bases, such as cytosine and thymine, were found for the first time in concentrations of parts per billion. The research results show that this type of compound can be produced by a photochemical reaction and reach the Earth via meteorites, which may play an important role in the genetic function of the first manifestations of life on our planet.

                                                                                                                                              Let us turn to Brazil, which is the only country in the Southern hemisphere which masters aerospace technology, with satellites, rockets, vehicles and launch sites. The Brazilian government places space activities at the top of its priority development agenda. Space research carried out by the Agência Espacial Brasileira focuses mainly on Earth observation, communication and meteorology. At the same time, Brazil is also strengthening the construction of infrastructure and the training of human resources for such studies.

                                                                                                                                              The People's Republic of China is an important aerospace cooperation partner of Brazil. The aerospace departments of China and Brazil actively implement the Cooperation Plan 2013-2022 of the National Space Administration of China and of the Brazilian Space Agency, respectively, and continue to expand into satellite exploration, manned spaceflight, including deepening studies in the field. There are plans to build a new cooperation platform in the areas of space technology, space applications, space science and ground equipment, personnel training, measurement and control support, as well as launch services.

                                                                                                                                              In Brazil the China-Brazil Space Weather Joint Laboratory and the Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia started a new cooperation at the beginning of April 2022. The two parties jointly established tools and equipment for scientific research and implemented data sharing. The collaboration succeeded in bringing the remote city of Santarém (Pará State) onto the map of an international sensor network for space meteorology research. It is also the latest tool in the South American magnetometer network shared between the Chinese Meridian Project and the Estudo e Monitoramento Brasileiro do Clima Espacial (EMBRACE).

                                                                                                                                              In terms of international cooperation, on 25 May 2022 the BRICS countries (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) established the Joint Space Cooperation Committee, which officially opened the joint observation and data sharing of the "constellation" of remote-sensing satellites of these States. The "constellation" consists of six existing satellites from the BRICS countries. Carlos Moura, director of the Agência Espacial Brasileira, said that the creation of a virtual "constellation" of remote-sensing satellites between the space agencies of the BRICS countries and the establishment of a data-sharing mechanism will help address the challenges faced by human beings such as global climate change, major disasters and environmental protection.

                                                                                                                                              In Israel, too, the promotion of lunar satellite exploration and of private aerospace innovation has achieved remarkable results. As early as 2022 Israel has increased its support for the private aerospace industry and has achieved a number of notable technological advances concerning space. On 6 January 2022, the Israel Innovation Authority announced a grant of six million dollars to eleven private aerospace companies for the development of new space technologies. The above-mentioned companies cover many technical fields such as the Internet of Things (IoT), i.e. the so-called "smart objects". We are not just talking about computers, smartphones and tablets, but above all about the objects that surround us in our homes, at work, in cities, in our everyday lives. The IoT was born right from the idea of bringing the objects of our everyday life and experience into the digital world.

                                                                                                                                              Israel, however, is also developing the space construction of small satellites, new materials, lunar oxygen production, advanced sensors and Hall thrusters. Over the next five years, IIA plans to fund USD 180 million to continue supporting the development of the private aerospace industry.

                                                                                                                                              Last year the Israeli defence company Rafael launched a "constellation" of high-resolution, high-revision satellites. The image resolution is less than 30 cm. At the same time, the revision time of the ground-based target of less than 10 minutes can be achieved by drawing the orbit of the "constellation". Pictures of the same ground-based target can be continuously taken at intervals of several minutes. Furthermore, the Israeli Ministry of Defence's Ofek satellite programme won the Israel Defence Award 2022. In 2020 Israel had launched the Ofek-16 satellite, which is the programme's third-generation satellite, weighs approximately 300-400 kilograms, and has an orbital altitude of 600 kilometres. All Ofek satellites are launched by the Shavit carrier rocket from the Palmachim air base in Israel, on the Mediterranean coast.

                                                                                                                                              The Israeli non-profit aerospace organisation SpaceIL is preparing to launch the country's second lunar probe in 2024 or 2025. The plan will carry multiple lunar experimental devices: the first experimental project was defined in late August 2022 and its content was to test the stability of drugs on the moon, under the responsibility of scholars from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                              In October 2022, the Ben-Gurion University of Negev and the Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology (QASMT) created a research group that announced they would use a probe to conduct tests on plant growth on the Moon.

                                                                                                                                              Meanwhile, France is investing in the construction of the Internet via satellite. Last year the French company Thales, together with the US company Qualcomm and the Swedish group Ericsson, planned to connect smartphones directly to satellite communications via small groups of satellites around the Earth over the next five years, in order to provide 5G coverage in areas not covered by terrestrial antennas, thus providing a service that lies between satellite telephone systems and satellite Internet providers such as Starlink. The project plans to invest eight billion euros. Thales will build the satellites; Qualcomm will supply the smartphones and Ericsson will install the terrestrial core network. This project has led to a shift from competition to cooperation between telecommunications and satellite companies in the field of networks.

                                                                                                                                              In terms of space planning and investment, in September 2022 France held the International Astronautical Congress in Paris and announced that it would invest over nine billion euros in space from 2023 to 2025 for the development and expansion of the space industry.

                                                                                                                                              At EU level, the European Space Agency (ESA) held a Summit last November and decided that the budget for the following three years would be EUR 16.9 billion, a 17 per cent increase, but less than the EUR 18.5 billion requested by its Director General. The funds are mainly provided by Germany, France and Italy. The new funding allows the continuation of the European programmes on Ariane 6 and Vega launchers, while enabling Europe to participate in the global competition for small launchers. The EU will also provide support for Moon and Mars probes in order to expand cooperation with the United States of America in Moon and Mars exploration.

                                                                                                                                              In the Republic of Korea (South Korea) the second test launch of the domestically produced Nuri rocket successfully placed several satellites into orbit on Tuesday, marking an important step in the efforts to restart its space programme after the failure of an initial test in 2021.

                                                                                                                                              At 4 pm on 21 June 2022, the Korean rocket was successfully launched from the Naro Space Center on the country's Southern coast. A 162.5 kg satellite designed to test the rocket's performance successfully made contact with a base station in Antarctica after entering orbit.

                                                                                                                                              On 30 November 2021, the South Korean government had released the fourth basic plan for space development, proposing five main tasks relating to the development of the space industry, i.e. expanding the scope of space exploration; sending manned spacecraft; developing the South Korean space industry; overseeing and supervising space security issues; and conducting space-related research.

                                                                                                                                              South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has clearly stated his State's intentions to land on the Moon in 2032 and on Mars in 2045. Some South Korean academic circles, however, have called this into question, as the Republic of Korea's talent pool, budget, and technical level in the aerospace sector cannot objectively support the expected effort.

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