New al­liance has tilted the bal­ance of power

China Daily European Weekly - - Cover Story - David Gos­set The au­thor is founder of the Europe-China Fo­rum (since 2002) and of the New Silk Road Ini­tia­tive. The views do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of China Daily.

Af­ter hum­ble ori­gins, or­ga­ni­za­tion has de­vel­oped into a valu­able fo­rum for non-West­ern na­tions

It is, along with the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, an­other highly sig­nif­i­cant il­lus­tra­tion of the global re­dis­tri­bu­tion of power. Within less than a decade, the BRICS Sum­mit, where Latin Amer­ica (Brazil), the vast Eurasian con­ti­nent (Rus­sia, In­dia, China) and Africa (South Africa) con­nect, has be­come a key player in in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics. From a mere BRIC — Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China — acro­nym coined by the Bri­tish econ­o­mist Jim O’Neill in 2001, it evolved into an im­pact­ful fo­rum whose im­por­tance is pro­por­tion­ate with the grow­ing eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal weight of its mem­bers.

While the G20 is the mark of a mul­ti­po­lar world be­yond ex­clu­sive West­ern dom­i­nance over global af­fairs, the BRICS dy­nam­ics point to­ward a cen­tury de­fined by the grow­ing sig­nif­i­cance of South-South re­la­tions. When trade in­creas­ingly links the BRICS coun­tries, whose com­bined GDP is more than 20 per­cent of the world econ­omy, West­ern Europe and North Amer­ica do not stand at the cen­ter any­more.

This year’s gath­er­ing sig­nals that, de­spite the voices call­ing for new ver­sions of uni­lat­er­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism, the deep­en­ing of in­ter­de­pen­dence and eco­nomic ex­changes among na­tions is a re­al­ity. The West might fear glob­al­iza­tion, the United States can be tempted by pro­tec­tion­ism, but this can’t trig­ger a de-glob­al­iza­tion. The glob­al­iz­ing forces have sim­ply shifted from one source to an­other. It is around non-West­ern re­gions that new forms of mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and co­op­er­a­tion are tak­ing shape. For Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia and South Africa, China has be­come the num­ber one trad­ing part­ner around which they have to de­sign their eco­nomic poli­cies and ad­just their diplo­matic po­si­tions.

An im­por­tant achieve­ment of the BRICS syn­er­gies has been the cre­ation of the New Devel­op­ment Bank, head­quar­tered in Shang­hai’s fi­nan­cial district. Its re­cently opened Africa Re­gional Cen­ter in Jo­han­nes­burg con­sti­tutes, for the African con­ti­nent, an op­por­tu­nity to deepen its links with Latin Amer­ica and the three Eurasian giants.

An in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial mech­a­nism cre­ated by non-West­ern coun­tries, the NDB is a step to­ward the in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of the BRICS process and a lab­o­ra­tory at the ser­vice of a more in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

The BRICS dy­nam­ics are en­gi­neered by the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries for their own ben­e­fit, but they also con­trib­ute to global sta­bil­ity. As men­tioned in the Goa Dec­la­ra­tion fol­low­ing the 8th BRICS Sum­mit, the first set of loans by the NDB to sup­port projects in­volv­ing re­new­able en­ergy put sus­tain­abil­ity and the com­mit­ment to fight cli­mate change at the top of the BRICS agenda.

Mean­while, a Con­tin­gent Re­serve Ar­range­ment has been es­tab­lished, aimed at pro­vid­ing a fi­nan­cial safety net for coun­tries ex­posed to mar­ket fluc­tu­a­tions. One of the im­me­di­ate mo­ti­va­tions to or­ga­nize the first BRIC Sum­mit — which evolved into BRICS when South Africa joined at the third Sum­mit in 2011 — in the year fol­low­ing the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis was to dis­cuss mech­a­nisms that would guard against se­vere fi­nan­cial dis­rup­tions.

Hav­ing func­tions sim­i­lar to those of the World Bank, as a provider of loans, but also of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund — to se­cure fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity — the New Devel­op­ment Bank en­riches the global fi­nan­cial land­scape. It does not con­tra­dict the sys­tem born at the Bret­ton Woods Con­fer­ence at the end of the World War II but com­ple­ments it and is re­flec­tion of a new dis­tri­bu­tion of power

Be­yond fi­nance and eco­nomics, and in a gen­eral con­text marked by un­cer­tain­ties, the Xi­a­men gath­er­ing sends an im­por­tant geopo­lit­i­cal mes­sage. While the me­dia choose to con­tin­u­ously re­port on the spec­tac­u­lar Sino-In­dian ten­sions over Donglang, the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi demon­strate their abil­ity to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the big pic­ture and to look at ne­go­ti­a­tions and di­a­logue as the way to man­age the cur­rent dis­agree­ments be­tween the two giants.

Nei­ther Xi nor Modi will sacri­fice the over­all Sino-In­dian syn­er­gies for a con­fronta­tion over Donglang, and the con­verg­ing forces of the BRICS dy­nam­ics, play­ing the role of a se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture, will keep them even fur­ther away from an es­ca­la­tion over the bor­der is­sue.

China and In­dia, two ma­jor civ­i­liza­tions, the world’s most pop­u­lated coun­tries with 35 per­cent of the world pop­u­la­tion, share a bor­der of 2,659 kilo­me­ters — ap­prox­i­mately equiv­a­lent to the to­tal land bound­ary of France — in a re­gion where his­tor­i­cal in­her­i­tance is al­most as com­plex as the Hi­malayan to­pog­ra­phy.

How­ever, for cen­turies these two great civ­i­liza­tions have co­ex­isted in peace, of­ten cross-fer­til­iz­ing. They have enough wis­dom in their re­spec­tive tra­di­tions to re­main fo­cused on co-devel­op­ment and peace­ful syn­er­gies, a path that could lead them, in a not too dis­tant fu­ture, to stand as the two strong­est pil­lars of a more har­mo­nious global sys­tem.

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