Enhancing BRICS Solidarity and Building a Better Post-COVID World
Remarks by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Video Conference of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations
1 June 2021
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the inception of the BRICS concept and the 15th anniversary of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting mechanism. We have witnessed the continued improvement of our cooperation mechanism, expansion of collaboration areas, and enhanced global influence. An architecture featuring the three main drivers of economic and financial cooperation, political and security cooperation and cultural and people-to-people exchanges has been established, setting a fine example of cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries. Despite COVID-19, BRICS countries have demonstrated resilience and vitality, maintained the momentum of cooperation, and lent important impetus to the efforts by the five countries and beyond to combat the coronavirus and rebuild the economy.
We meet at a time of great changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century. We BRICS countries should create opportunities in the crisis and secure new prospects amidst changes. We should work together to further “burnish BRICS’ credentials” as a responsible player in promoting global solidarity, offer BRICS’ proposals for addressing governance deficit, and contribute BRICS’ share to tackling common challenges. To this end, China wishes to propose the following:
First, we need to promote global solidarity against the pandemic and protect people’s health. The recent resurgence of the virus and its frequent mutation are a sobering reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is a marathon. No country should slacken in its efforts, and cooperation must be strengthened. The COVID response should be more science-based to maximize the roles of vaccines and drugs and to make good use of preventive measures with a particular emphasis on international and regional coordination and information sharing. Efforts should continue to balance routine COVID protocols and emergency measures, and ensure both epidemic control and socio-economic development.
The pandemic is escalating in the South while subsiding in the North. This is pretty much due to vaccine hoarding and export restrictions taken by a few developed countries. In contrast, we BRICS countries, while vaccinating our own peoples, have been doing our best to offer vaccines to other countries. China has provided over 350 million doses of vaccines to the international community. This sets us apart from those in the West who put their own interests ahead of everything else. It is hoped that BRICS countries will keep the vaccines a global public good, uphold the principles of fair and reasonable distribution, and support the World Health Organization (WHO) in advancing the COVAX Facility at a faster pace, and support the World Trade Organization (WTO) in making an early decision on waiving the intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines. We should expedite the establishment of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center, and hold a BRICS Symposium on Vaccine Cooperation in due course. We should support our vaccine companies in their efforts to transfer technologies to other developing countries and cooperate on vaccine production so as to help close the global vaccine divide and build a stronger shield to protect the health of humanity. China has proposed setting up an international forum on vaccine cooperation. BRICS members and companies are most welcome to join.
Second, we need to practice true multilateralism and maintain the international order. Multilateralism is an important cornerstone of the existing international system. But this cornerstone is being eroded at the moment. Practices under the disguise of multilateralism – such as putting one’s own interests above everything else, forming exclusive clubs, and acting on a selective basis – are nothing but unilateral actions, and hegemonic in essence. What the world needs is true multilateralism. We must ensure that the philosophies of multilateralism are upheld, its principles are maintained, and its benefits are delivered.
As prominent emerging markets and developing countries, we BRICS members should lead by example in practicing true multilateralism. We should call on all parties to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and reject exceptionalism and double standards. We call on them to follow the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and reject hegemony, bullying and zero-sum games. We call on them to pursue openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and reject group politics and ideological confrontation. We call on them to take real actions to solve real problems, and reject empty words that prolong them. We BRICS countries should work in concert to bolster the UN-centered international system and safeguard the international order on the basis of international law.
Third, we need to help world economic recovery and contribute to global development. Affected by the pandemic, the world economic recovery is imbalanced, the North-South development gap is widening, and we BRICS countries have also found ourselves in a far more complicated development environment. Against this backdrop, our option should be the common good of humanity, rather than just our own well-being. We the five countries need to step up macroeconomic policy coordination, steadily implement the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025, enhance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and promote an earlier realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Digital economy and green economy are the future. China supports formulating the BRICS Innovation Cooperation Action Plan to nurture new growth drivers through scientific and technological innovation and digital transformation. China has launched the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) innovation center in Xiamen, Fujian Province. And we look forward to your active participation. We should also strengthen cooperation on green industries, green technologies and green finance to achieve modernization featuring harmony between man and nature, and foster a community of life for man and nature. We should strongly promote the “BRICS Plus” cooperation format and enhance solidarity and coordination among developing countries. We should continue to provide political impetus for the expansion of the New Development Bank’s membership, and work for the early admission of the first group of new members within the year to increase the Bank’s influence and coverage and benefit more countries.
Fourth, we need to help ease regional conflicts and confrontation, and contribute to world peace. The impact of COVID-19 on world peace and security is still unfolding, with long-standing hotspots showing new dynamics and new hotspots exacerbating long-held grievances. The interplay of traditional hotspots and non-traditional challenges has made them even more complicated and difficult to solve. We the BRICS countries should act on the new security vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and encourage political settlement of regional hotspots and resolution of disputes through dialogue and consultation. And we should take more preventive actions to this end. Gross interference from the outside and attempts at regime change are not a solution. They will cause bigger problems and even crises. The lessons from history must be heeded.
The ceasefire between the two sides of the Palestine-Israel conflict is a step in the right direction, albeit difficult. It is important to urge them to lock in the outcomes achieved, and explore confidence-building measures to accumulate the conditions for resuming peace talks. Israel in particular needs to take more visible steps to gain the confidence of the Palestinian people, including stopping the demolition of Palestinian homes and the eviction of the Palestinian people, and discontinuing its settlement expansion. Countries with influence should play a bigger role and take more concrete steps in promoting peace talks and providing humanitarian assistance, and facilitate a comprehensive, just and enduring settlement of the Palestinian question on the basis of the two-state solution.
The talks on resuming compliance with the JCPOA have made important headway. Yet uncertainties of an agreement still remain. The United States unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and “maximum pressure” on Iran are the root causes of the Iranian nuclear crisis. Logically the United States should first lift all unlawful sanctions against Iran, including long-arm jurisdiction over third parties. And Iran, on that basis, returns to compliance as quickly as possible. Parties need to make a political decision to facilitate a breakthrough in the talks. It is important to take seriously the legitimate concerns of the countries in the Gulf region. China proposes establishing a new platform of multilateral dialogue for the Gulf region to garner new consensus for peace and stability in the region.
The peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan must be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”, and aim to achieve a broad-based and inclusive political arrangement in line with Afghanistan’s national conditions. Troop withdrawal by the United States and other countries should proceed in a responsible and orderly way and should not lead to chaos or war. It is also crucial to prevent the terrorist forces from expanding by taking advantage of the situation and from destabilizing the region. We BRICS countries need to uphold justice and make active efforts in our respective ways for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
The disposal of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant concerns the ecological security of global marine environment as well as the life and health of people in all countries. Japan must not turn a deaf ear to the concerns and discharge the nuclear waste water as it wishes. It is imperative to urge the Japanese government to face its responsibilities squarely, and not to discharge the contaminated water to the ocean before reaching consensus with stakeholders and international agencies through consultation. No country should place its economic interests above the ecological environment. And no country should put its selfish interest above the health of humanity.
Terrorism is a common threat to mankind. COVID-19 has taken its toll on countries’ ability of fighting terrorism. The rising tide of extremism has fomented further spread of terrorism. In Africa, counter-terrorism is more challenging. All countries should support the United Nations as the central coordinator, reject double standards and political self-interest, crack down on all terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council, and at the same time firmly oppose interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of counter-terrorism.
In a month’s time, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will celebrate its centenary. This is very important to both China and the world. The CPC is committed to the eternal great cause of the Chinese nation. It is showing even stronger vigor and vitality at its 100th anniversary. Building on the completion of the first centenary goal, we will embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country. The CPC always stays true to its original aspiration and mission – seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. It is ready to work with the people of all other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Let us, the BRICS countries, work more closely to uphold the common values of humanity for peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, practice true multilateralism, and make new contributions to maintaining international and regional peace and development.