The 9th BRICS summit hosted by China has shown more “internal optimism and external confidence,” Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a prolific China expert and observer, said.
As leaders from the five emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, concluded their three-day gathering on Tuesday in this coastal Chinese city, Kuhn remarked on the positive mood at the summit.
“I sense more internal optimism and external confidence, driven by two factors: the improving economic situation of several of the BRICS members and, frankly, China hosting the summit, which increases the visibility, publicity and international interest,” he said in a written interview with Xinhua.
The chairman of the Kuhn Foundation and author and editor of over two dozen books added that the summit is the last major event in China before the 19th CPC National Congress, which gives it a special significance in China.
Kuhn also commented on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening ceremony of the summit by mentioning some of the current international themes — a community of shared future, win-win cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, multilateralism and a new kind of global governance. Yet this time, Kuhn said, the emphasis had shifted a bit.
“I sensed a greater emphasis on global peace and stability, with specific stress on international security, fighting terrorism and creating conditions for settling regional conflicts. President Xi’s message fits the moment,” Kuhn said.
“President Xi’s grand vision for ‘common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security’ stands in stark contrast to disruptive actions that seek to undermine global peace and stability,” the expert said.
Kuhn said BRICS is of great importance to China. “BRICS development enables China to expand and diversify its international trade. In addition, BRICS facilitates China’s vision of a new style of global governance, as presented by President Xi,” Kuhn said.
“Certainly the continuing common interests among BRICS members have only grown greater over the past decade,” he said. Those interests include developing mutual trade in the face of challenging domestic and international circumstances and advocating a stronger voice in global governance, especially in financial and economic matters, for BRICS nations.
“There are certainly fundamental differences among the BRICS countries, especially different domestic conditions, but what unites them is stronger than what divides them: a great need to increase international trade and a deep sense that the current international system does not properly represent the interest of the developing world, especially the largest developing countries,” he said.
He suggested that BRICS might contribute to a comeback of globalization as it is founded on the principle of economic globalization. However, he cautioned that BRICS alone could not be expected to make a “transformative world impact.”
“Setting unachievable expectations for BRICS only supports those who think that BRICS is more form than substance. BRICS works best by setting examples of globalization and promoting international trade by multiple mechanisms,” Kuhn said.
As for the bloc’s NDB and Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), Kuhn viewed them not as rivals of the Western-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, but as complementary institutions. As Kuhn pointed out, “the world has more projects to do than resources to finance them.”
Although he said that BRICS and the IMF and World Bank are not “in the same league” because the BRICS’s NDB has a much smaller capacity and a much tighter focus, Kuhn suggested the NDB made a smart move with its strategic decision to focus on green and sustainable projects. “This provides purpose and good competitive positioning among larger, older institutions,” the expert said.
Kuhn was optimistic about the outlook of the bloc and its contribution to the changing world order.
“Global governance is perhaps the most pressing need of our complex and often fractious world. Never before have we faced such divisive and interwoven challenges — political, economic, social, technological, ethnic, religious,” Kuhn said, adding that these call for a new approach to global governance.
“President Xi Jinping is now proposing a grand vision of global governance — stressing the strength of stability and the goal of mutual prosperity — with China playing a dramatic new role in seeking global win-win cooperation. BRICS is one platform in an increasing complex environment of global governance,” Kuhn said.
He suggested BRICS continue to facilitate trade among its members and offer a means for influencing the international economic and financial order.
“Properly positioned, BRICS can facilitate the continuing emergence of the largest developing countries to participate fully in a new kind of global governance, which humanity so badly needs in the 21st century,” Kuhn said.