BRICS Experts on Governance
In mid-august of this year, over 160 guests from BRICS and other developing countries gathered in Quanzhou, a coastal city in southeastern China, for the BRICS Seminar on Governance. Quanzhou is about an hour’s drive away from Xiamen, the host city of the 9th BRICS Summit.
As an important event leading up to the BRICS summit in early September, the seminar was sponsored by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and co-organized by the Chinese Academy of Governance and China International Publishing Group (CIPG). As a novel and rewarding program under the cooperation mechanisms of BRICS, the seminar included three panel meetings respectively themed “enhancing reform for common development,” “increasing communication for cultural prosperity,” and “strengthening collaboration in global governance.” It aimed to promote another decade of successful cooperation among BRICS countries by inviting guests to conduct in-depth exchange on governance and explore possibilities for wider cooperation.
China’s Mode: A Reference for the World
In 2003, Goldman Sachs coined the concept of BRIC in a report on global economics: Dreaming with BRICS—THE Path to 2050. In September 2006, the foreign ministers of China, Russia, India and Brazil met for the first time during a session of the United Nations General Assembly. In 2009, the first summit meeting of BRIC leaders was held in Russia. At the end of 2010, South Africa joined the bloc, adding its “S.” Ten years have passed since cooperation among these large developing countries was first organized. From an informal meeting between foreign ministers to a multi-faceted cooperation mechanism covering politics, economy, agriculture, energy and culture, these countries have reaped remarkable results by promoting exchange and cooperation.
China’s governance has achieved considerable success since the 18th CPC National Congress. During the seminar, guests from all participating countries praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s philosophy on governance. Ronnie Lins, CEO of Center ChinaBrazil: Research and Business, remarked that President Xi’s governance model is a source of inspiration. It can serve as a platform from which we can make the necessary adaptations in global governance. The Chinese government has developed an administration model with well-defined objectives, solid premises and foreseeable results. The Chinese model can serve as a benchmark for almost any developing country.
Essop Goolam Pahad, a former minister of South Africa and editor-in-chief of the monthly journal The Thinker, remarked that poverty is a major concern affecting the development in Africa, and that critical lessons for Africa can be drawn from President Xi Jinping’s book Up and Out of Poverty. Ningde Prefecture in Fujian Province once suffered from similar problems related to development and poverty, and Xi effectively alleviated poverty there. This book manifests how leadership brought dramatic changes to the poor during the time of transformation.
This seminar also provided a platform for suggestions on concrete issues concerning governance. Vladimir Eremin, the First Deputy Director of the Graduate School of Public Administration (GSPA) of Lomonosov Moscow State University, argued that civil servants are responsible for providing legal support to economic activities, organizing monetary circulation, and ensuring an optimal environment for employment. One of the central and most urgent tasks of a civil service institution is more effective implementation of economic and social functions—regulation of the economy. Training of civil servants is a very important issue for all countries, including BRICS nations.
Former Ethiopian Minister of Education Gennet Zewide Birru hopes that more women will be included in global governance. Women play a critical role in improving people’s livelihood. In
developing continents like Africa, about 90 percent of the female labor force is engaged in agricultural work. Women are also responsible for the preparation of food for families. When women are given the opportunity to participate in leadership, they can improve and tackle important issues that will result in real progress for the people.
Next Breakthrough for BRICS Cooperation
In the past decade, BRICS countries grew from some promising emerging economies scattered across four continents into a group of developing nations that cooperate in many areas. What will future cooperation be like? What are the areas to explore for further cooperation?
During this seminar, experts offered feasible suggestions according to their profession and experience.
Mahendra Prasad Lama, a professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University, believes that education could be a critical realm of cooperation among BRICS members. It could become a gamechanger for the five-country integration matrix. BRICS members have already identified areas like sharing of macro-data, popularization of information technology, and technical innovation on a much deeper and larger scale, with the facilitation of student and teacher mobility being a core area of cooperation. However, given their different geographical locations, development levels, governance structures and institutional variations, BRICS countries must increasingly adopt non-conventional techniques and practices to kindle and deepen cooperation.
Hu Huaibang, chairman of China Development Bank (CDB), vows that to keep with the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, the CDB will continue to promote and deepen BRICS cooperation towards the goal of building a big market for trade and investment, wider circulation of financial services and currencies, well-connected infrastructure and more frequent people-to-people exchange. By playing the role of a think-tank as well as a financial institution, the CDB can further promote exchanges among BRICS countries on governance, development of major projects and people-to-people ties.
Think-tank Cooperation on Cultural Exchange
During the seminar, CIPG signed memoranda of understanding on academic research and communication with four institutes and agencies: the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Center China-brazil: Research and Business (CCB), the Institute of Chinese Studies in Delhi, India, and South Africa’s The Thinker magazine.
According to the agreements, both sides will work closely on information sharing, staff exchange and cooperation in academic research, as well as conducting routine discussions and communication.
“The future of BRICS cooperation requires both top-level design and people-to-people exchange, especially cooperation and joint wisdom between think-tanks of different BRICS nations,” declared Vice President of CIPG Wang Gangyi in an interview. As the BRICS mechanism steps into its second decade, plenty of room has emerged for bilateral and multilateral cooperation between BRICS nations, according to Wang. BRICS think-tanks are expected to leverage their strengths, complement each other and provide solutions for BRICS nations, serving as drivers of BRICS cooperation for better social development. “Think-tanks in these countries should become practitioners of new globalization, advocates of new global governance and pioneers of new South-south cooperation,” he added.
August 17, 2017: Huang Kunming, executive deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, stresses the importance of enhancing exchange on governance experience and ensuring consensus among leaders of BRICS nations in a keynote speech at the BRICS Seminar on Governance in Quanzhou, Fujian Province.
August 18, 2017: During the two- day BRICS Seminar on Governance in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China International Publishing Group (CIPG) respectively signed memorandums of understanding on academic research and communication with four foreign institutes and agencies.
August 17, 2017: Jiang Jianguo, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and minister of the State Council Information Office, presides over the opening ceremony of the BRICS Seminar on Governance.