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‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, BRICS expand cooperation among developing countries

MAO LI | 2018-08-10 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the opening ceremony of the South Africa-China Scientists High Level Dialogue in Pretoria, South Africa, July 24, 2018. Photo: LIU WEIBING/XINHUA

July 19-28, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the United Arab Emirates, Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius, facilitating China-UAE relations and a closer community of shared future between China and Africa. His visit has also facilitated the BRICS cooperation, contributing to collaboration among developing countries.

Xi’s visit to the UAE has elevated the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, charting a course to realize the further potential of the cooperation.

“Building the Belt and Road together will become the main axis of China-UAE economic and trade cooperation,” said Ding Long, deputy dean of the School of Foreign Studies at the University of International Business and Economics.

At present, China is the UAE’s largest trading partner. The UAE has been China’s second largest trading partner and its largest export market among Arab countries for many years. As a trade and financial center of the Middle East, the UAE is located at the intersection of the B&R and is one of the Middle Eastern countries that has actively responded to and participated in the B&R. There will be more potential for China and the UAE to build it, Ding concluded.

China and the UAE will establish a sustainable trade and investment partnership under the B&R framework to strengthen e-commerce, production capacity, innovation, technology transfer and economic diversification, said Huang Minxing, a professor from the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at Northwest University.

China-UAE cooperation has also expanded into education, science and technology, renewable energy and water resources, oil and gas cooperation, military and law enforcement security, humanities, and other fields, Huang said.

During Xi’s visit, Senegal became the first West African country to sign cooperation documents regarding the B&R with China. This is of great significance, said Liu Hongwu, dean of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University. In recent years, the B&R construction has made achievements in East Africa. The collaboration between China and Senegal will create more inroads into West Africa and French-speaking African countries.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. The first summit of the second golden decade of the BRICS was also held in South Africa.

Holding the rotating presidency of the BRIC in 2010, China agreed with Russia, India and Brazil to include South Africa as a full member, bringing the vast African continent into its cooperation mechanism. Xi’s visit to South Africa is conducive to further promoting the coordination between the BRICS and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and other multilateral platforms, so that the BRICS cooperation and China-Africa cooperation can promote the comprehensive revitalization of South Africa and the African continent, Liu said.

In light of the profound evolution of the current international situation, developing China-Africa relations to promote South-South cooperation has been especially significant. It is necessary to use the platform of China-Africa relations to build a new type of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind in the new era of China’s diplomacy, Liu concluded, and furthermore to deepen China-Africa cooperation in line with a strategic vision.

The threats and pressures of trade protectionism and unilateralism are generally felt in countries around the world, especially in developing countries, said Yang Lihua, a research fellow at the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The BRICS cooperation mechanism itself is a product of the trend of the multi-polarization and democratization of international relations. The BRICS countries, as representatives of emerging markets and developing countries, have a clear responsibility to oppose unilateralism and protectionism and to influence the international order in a more just and rational direction.
In particular, by continuing the BRICS Plus mode created at last year’s Xiamen summit, the BRICS cooperation mechanism will be more representative and open, building a broader partnership. Cooperation between emerging markets and developing countries will be strengthened, speaking loudly to the world in favor of maintaining multilateralism, Yang concluded.

Zhu Jiejin, an associate professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, said that the BRICS countries can unite and save the dispute settlement mechanism under the WTO from its current unprecedented crisis. In addition, the countries together can and must push for substantial progress in the Doha Round negotiations.


(edited by JIANG HONG)