Amid the rise of unilateralism, Chinese President Xi Jinping exhorted the BRICS countries to hold aloft the banner of multilateralism and enhance cooperation in countering the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the 12th BRICS Summit, the Chinese leader called for sustained efforts to reverse the negative trends of the COVID-19 pandemic and urged the member-states to remain vigilant against factors contributing to the “uncertainty and instability” of the world.
“Around the world, COVID-19 is posing a grave threat to people’s life and well-being. The global public health system is facing a severe test. The world economy is witnessing the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. And unilateralism, protectionism, and acts of bullying are becoming rampant, and the deficit in governance, trust, development, and peace is widening instead of narrowing,” the Chinese leader said.
Despite these negative developments, there is also the reality that “the theme of our times, peace and development has not changed, and that the trend toward multipolarity and economic globalization cannot be turned around,” he added. President Xi presented a five-point approach to building a “shared future for mankind and “making the world a better place for everyone”. First, upholding multilateralism and safeguarding peace and stability is a prerequisite. “History teaches us that multilateralism, equity, and justice can keep war and conflict at bay, while unilateralism and power politics will inflate dispute and confrontation.” He urged the BRICS countries to stand up for equity and justice in the world.
“We must hold high the banner of multilateralism, and defend the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. We must endeavor to safeguard the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law. It is important that countries rise above ideology and respect each other’s choices of the social system, economic model and development path consistent with their national conditions,” said President Xi Jinping .
Second, he said that there must be solidarity and coordination to meet the COVID-19 challenge. “Nearly one year into the battle, many countries have gained important experience in COVID-19 containment and made encouraging progress in drugs and vaccine research and development (R&D). Our fight over the past year proves that as long as we stand in unity and follow science, we can control the spread of the virus and offset its impact,” he said. “As we speak, Chinese companies are working with their Russian and Brazilian partners on phase-III clinical trials of vaccines, and we are prepared to have cooperation with South Africa and India as well. China has joined the COVAX facility, a platform on which we will share vaccines with other countries, developing countries in particular.”
The third aspect is to pursue openness and innovation and promote global economic recovery. The IMF predicts a 4.4 percent slump in the world economy this year, while the developing countries will experience negative growth for the first time in 60 years. Hence, stabilizing the economy and controlling the pandemic is the pressing task. But using the pandemic to pursue “de-globalization” or clamor for “economic decoupling” and “parallel systems” will run counter to the common interests, President Xi said.
“China will work with other parties to flesh out the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution at a faster pace. We will open in Xiamen, Fujian Province, a BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution Innovation Center to advance cooperation on policy coordination, personnel training, and project development; and we welcome the active participation of fellow BRICS countries,” he said.
Fourthly, countries need to prioritize people’s livelihood and promote sustainable development. “Development holds the master key to all problems. All our efforts, from clearing the impact of COVID-19 and getting back to a normal life, to ending conflicts and humanitarian crises, ultimately depend on people-centered development,” he said.“We need to call on the international community to (make) the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the heart of international development cooperation. Poverty eradication must be made a primary goal, and more resources must be channeled to education, health, and infrastructure development,” he added.
The fifth and final aspect is to pursue green and low-carbon development and strive for harmony between man and nature. “Global warming will not stop due to COVID-19. To tackle climate change, we must never relax our efforts. We need to implement the Paris Agreement in good faith, stick to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and provide more help to developing countries, particularly the small island developing states.”
“China is prepared to take on international responsibilities, befitting its level of development, and will continue to make extraordinary efforts to address climate change,” President Xi said. The 12th BRICS summit was held on November 17, 2020, under the chairmanship of Russia. India will take over the rotational chair from Russia and host the 13th BRICS Summit in 2021. It will be India’s third presidency of the grouping after 2012 and 2016. The leaders of five countries, including, Russia, India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, participated in the summit.
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