Outside of a trans-Atlantic world still dominated by geopolitics and “survival of the fittest”, another dynamic for mutual economic growth is gaining strength, as was seen at the Sept. 3-5 BRICS summit in Xiamen, China. Over the past ten years, the combined GDP of the five BRICS members (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) has grown by 179% and their trade by 94%, while the group’s New Development Bank, founded in 2014, is funding important projects. All that, as Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out, has helped stabilize the global economy.
This year for the first time, five other heads of state were invited to attend the summit, from Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand. This innovation is meant to transform the BRICS into a larger forum for South-South cooperation.
At the opening ceremony of the BRICs Business Forum on Sept. 3, Xi stressed that the group is characterized by the fact that the countries treat each other as equals and seek common ground, they take a results-oriented innovative approach to matters so that the results will benefit all, and they “developed themselves to help others with the well-being of the world in mind.”
The Russsian government had announced before the summit that the five leaders would be discussing vital regional issues as well, including the Middle East, Afghanistan, North Africa and the Sahara-Sahel region, plagued by terrorism and extremist groups. President Putin made known that Syria would be a special focus of the discussions, and that he would ask the other countries to join in the process of settlement of the conflict and reconstruction of the country.
Another major theme was China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which Xi Jinping described as follows:
“The Belt and Road Initiative is not a tool to advance any geopolitical agenda, but a platform for practical cooperation. It is not a foreign aid scheme, but an initiative for interconnected development which calls for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. I am convinced that the Belt and Road Initiative will serve as a new platform for all countries to achieve win-win cooperation.”
Major breakthroughs are hoped for in the near future as concerns such stupendous projects as Transaqua in Africa and construction of the Kra Canal in Thailand. The type of infrastructure projects promoted by China obviously also hold the key to preventing such tragedies as the recent catastrophic flooding in South Asia, which claimed so many precious lives.