New Chinese leader makes debut at summit representing 43 percent of humanity
For the first time the BRICS Summit was convened in the Republic of South Africa. In the port city of Durban representatives of the governments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa gathered for the fifth meeting of this important forum which was attended by 4,000 delegates.
The leaders who represent the BRICS countries constitute 43 percent of the world’s population. South Africa is the latest member of the group and the only state on the African continent which is a member.
South Africa became a member two years ago at the urging of the People’s Republic of China which is the largest trading partner with the continent.China saw South Africa, which has the biggest economy in Africa, as a gateway for deeper economic relations between the emerging centers and the African continent.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the summit that the member states were coordinating their efforts in regard to investment, mining, and the combating of the trade in illegal drugs. China’s new leader Xi Jinping,stopped off in Russia and the Republic of Tanzania in East Africa before attending the BRICS Summit.
An Alternative Development Bank
One of the major issues on the agenda at the BRICS Summit was a proposal for the creation of a new development bank that could by-pass the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). China, of course, which has the fastest growing economy in the world, would pay a leading role in this process.
The bank would be active in funding infrastructural projects, many of which would be based on the African continent. China along with Brazil, whose economy is also growing at a rapid rate in South America, is slated to provide $US30 billion to finance bilateral trade in their own national currencies.
In addition to this proposal related to bilateral trade, the BRICS are establishing a $US100 billion contingency reserve fund in order to provide assistance in cases of economic emergencies. Such moves are also designed to enhance the five countries’ standing within the Group of 20 and other international financial bodies.
According to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff “Changing the IMF is an urgent task that will insure its legitimacy. “ At present the BRICS nations, despite its population and emerging economic growth, only accounts for 12 percent of the votes in the IMF where the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Japan dominate.
At the Summit there was also the creation of a five-nation business council which will convene twice every year. The aim of the meetings will be to increase economic cooperation among the member-states.
In an article written by Donald Kaberuka, who is President of the African Development Bank, he noted that “The relationship between Africa and the BRICS has grown dramatically, with trade levels increasing ten-fold in ten years, to a value of some $340 billion in a year. And Africa itself is the lynchpin of the trade triangle with Asia and South America. Africa-China trade last year was twenty times what it had been at the turn of the century.” (africanbrains.net, March 26)
ANC Hails Successful BRICS Summit
The BRICS Summit served as a triumph for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. Being the largest economy on the continent where less than two decades ago the state was dominated by a white minority regime, the advent of the country’s membership illustrates Pretoria’s elevation to a major force in Africa and throughout the international community.
In addition to the participation of the South African government as a member of the alliance, a number of other states on the continent were invited to participate in discussions surrounding the Summit. Despite the West’s ongoing efforts to marginalize Africa, such a gathering highlights the changing political and economic dynamics that are taking place globally.
In a statement issued by the ANC on March 27 at the conclusion of the gathering in Durban, the party stresses that it “welcomed progress made at the BRICS Summit and thanked the South African government and theEthekwini Metro for having successfully hosted the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban over the past two days. We also thank the South African government for having invited 19 heads of state from Africa to participate in discussions on how the BRICS initiative will benefit the African continent.”
This same statement concludes by observing that “BRICS has reconfirmed our belief in the collective power of the developing nations that account for more than half of the world population. It is such purposeful initiatives that will create a lasting platform for a fairer distribution of resources and development.”
New Chinese Leader Makes International Debut in Africa
Xi Jinping was a focus of attention prior to and during the BRICS Summit in Durban. The newly-elected leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China was keen to address the corporate media and western imperialist implications that Beijing’s involvement in Africa only benefited the nation’s fastest growing economy.
Xi reiterated that the impact of the burgeoning relations with Africa was beneficial to both regions. He also reminded the international community of the long term alliance between China and the national liberation movements in Africa and the independent states who have emerged from centuries of slavery and colonialism.
After leaving South Africa, Xi Jinping visited the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville where he held discussions with President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Xinhua News Agency pointed out that “On the occasion of the upcoming 50thanniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties next year, Xi said he hoped the two sides will make joint efforts and deepen their friendship and mutual trust, so as to lift the bilateral comprehensive cooperative partnership of solidarity and mutual assistance to a new level.” (March 31)
President Sassou-Nguesso said that he appreciated the assistance from Beijing and hoped to enhance cooperation between the two states. Projects are currently underway in the transport sector involving the construction of roads and railway lines.
Xinhua said that Sassou-Nguesso “also dismissed the so-called ‘Chinese neo-colonialism’ in Africa, saying the African people would not be misled by such ‘ill-disposed’ allegations as they fully understood what colonialism is through their own history. China respects Africa, helps Africa, and does not interfere in the internal affairs of African countries.”
In a speech delivered before the Congolese parliament on March 29, Xi said that China will remain an “all-weather” friend and staunch partner to the African people. Looking ahead Xi predicted that the existing agreements between the Chinese government and African states would open avenues for even deeper cooperation.
Xi said that “No matter how the international situation will change, China is always Africa’s all-weather friend and partner. I have a very deep feeling that Africa is a continent full of vitality and hope. China-Africa cooperation has great potential and bright prospects.”
The trip by the Chinese leader to Brazzaville ended his first international tour.
During 2012 the Fifth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was held in Beijing involving representatives from 50 African states and the top leadership of the People’s Republic of China.
The Forum was founded in 2000 and since then trade between China and Africa has grown exponentially.
Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.