Commentary at the Sub-forum of BRCIS Global Governance by CCIEE Chief Economist Chen Wenling
Thank you so much for inviting me to be the panelist at this sub-forum, which is also a great opportunity for me to learn from all of you. The former Prime Minister of Tanzania, Mizengo Pinda, has just commented on each of the speakers, thus, I shall not repeat this process. I have summarized the speeches of the eight speakers into five “needs” to reflect their spirit and theme.
Firstly, the world needs changes. In his speech, Mr. Ji said that it has been more than 60 years since the global governance framework and system, including political and economic system was established after the Second World War. The US had always been the banner man of economic globalization and trade liberalization, however, it quitted recently and this has brought great changes to the world. The total GDP of non-western countries amounts to more than 50% of the world’s GDP. Today’s change is rapid and profound. Mr. Li explained that we are facing a number of known and unknown challenges and joint consultation is the foundation of global governance in the future, which I find very important.
Secondly, BRICS nations need closer cooperation. Just like the Russian expert said that BRICS nations have entered the arena of global governance and become an important force. The cooperation among BRICS nations is the theme of the eight speakers’ speeches. In terms of how can BRICS nations cooperate more closely than before, Mr. Wang Changlin proposed that they should be more open and establish a multilateral trading system as well as promote the creation of the free trade zone among themselves, which I consider as a very creative proposal. BRICS nations should engage deeply in global governance and the non-state actors should also participate in global governance. Apart from building bilateral, multilateral, regional and diversified cooperation, the BRICS nations should create a cooperation mechanism among themselves. All these have been clarified by the eight speakers. The experts from Africa pointed out that the BRICS has become a common community of share future, and the people-oriented principle upheld by some African nations has pushed development forward. Both the BRICS and African countries have become the indispensable force of the world.
Thirdly, the world needs China. I can feel this deeply from the speeches of our international friends, such as the remark of the Russian representative. He said that China has started a new historical chapter since Xi Jinping was elected as the General Secretary of the CPC central committee on November 29, 2012. The China dream has become the new goal of the new historical period and Russian experts are totally agreed with the idea of China dream and the two millennium goals. He believes that China should sum up president Xi Jinling’s 10 years of ruling by 2021 and set the goal for 2049, which is the second millennium goal. The General Secretary Xi Jinping said that the world needs China. The speakers from Africa and the director-general of the international academy of governance also mentioned that China is moving toward the international arena and playing a leading role. Many people asserted that Xi Jinping’s theories of governance, the supply-side structural reform and the belt and road forum for international cooperation have brought new opportunities to the world. People have great expectation of the belt and road and speakers from different countries agreed on that the belt and road is a fine public good offered to the world by China.
Fourthly, we need to solve some pressing problems and contradictions properly. I appreciate the address delivered by our Indian friend, saying that both China and India need to resolve the current contradictions with the wisdom of Asia, and the two ancient countries, China and India. The two countries should strengthen communication between their leaders, promote the construction of the China-India-Pakistan-Afghanistan economic corridor and connect it with the existing China-Pakistan economic corridor so as to form the East Asia economic corridor. His speech is in line with the direction of the belt and road initiative, which includes the China-Pakistan economic corridor and Bangladesh-China-India-Burma economic corridor. The speaker from India called the two economic corridors the East Asia economic corridor and proposed to solve the current contradictions with the wisdom of Asia, China and India, and look into the future. He also said that the BRICS nations should work on building a better future and improvement is needed on the China-India relations. I appreciate what he has just said.
Fifthly, entrepreneurs from different countries need to do more than before. In the speeches made by the two entrepreneurs, they offered great insight in the areas such as what role can entrepreneurs play in the BRICS mechanism, the belt and road initiative and global governance so that enterprises can transform more initiative, consensus and ideology into key projects and achievement. The world and the people’s hearts are connected and connectivity will not just link our ideas and roads but also the present and the future, the BRICS nations are bound to have a better future.
I am very pleased to have the second opportunity to deliver a speech, expressing my own viewpoints. I would like to take this precious opportunity to address the deep changes and evolvement of the international pattern and new path of cooperation among the BRICS nations. Some of the speakers have already stressed the importance and meaning of the cooperation among the BRICS nations, I would like to look at it from a different perspective.
From the perspective of big change and evolvement of the international pattern
Firstly, the south-north relation has changed profoundly. The emerging economies as a whole are on the rise, reflecting not just their larger share of the world’s GDP, which is more than 50% but also their rapid increase in terms of their discourse power and influence in the international arena. Although a lot of people claim that our rise is not good enough, nonetheless, I have to say that we have made rather fast progress over recent years.
Secondly, the biggest change is the transformation of momentum. The entire world is experiencing a number of breakthroughs, such as the change from old momentum to a new one, artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobility and connectivity, big data and cloud computing. All these allow the huge new momentum to be formed, which is very different from the previous three industrial revolutions. The industrial revolutions in the past can be seen as a revolution of technology and production mode, while this revolution is about people’s way of thinking and can be seen as a disruptive revolution. The new revolution will permeate all industries and sectors and form new conditions for manufacturing, services industry and trade, which will lead to the evolvement of business models and conditions transformation. As we can see, new business models are emerging in an endless stream and new technology has been applied to all different aspects, apart from the creation of new business models like Alibaba, sharing bike, and Didi Chuxing, a major ride-sharing company in China. The location of the organization I work for, CCIEE is not far from the well-known Tiantan Park and I go there for a walk after lunch regularly. One day, I was surprised to see that the public toilet applied the facial recognition technology to limit how much paper a person can take. When you stand in front of the toilet paper dispenser, a limited number of toilet paper will be dispensed follow a face scan, but you have to wait for about ten minutes if you want to take more paper. This example demonstrates that new technology has brought great change to the production model, people’s lifestyle and our society as a whole and this kind of change is global and unstoppable.
Thirdly, the game among big nations has intensified, which is a new trend facing our world. All the nations have the dream of becoming a powerful nation, want to be the best in the world and the center of the world stage. In 2012, China’s president Xi Jinping introduced China dream with the aim of rejuvenating the Chinese nation. When Putin firstly became the president of Russia, he said that he will give his people back a strong Russia if they give him 20 years, and he is moving forward in accordance with this goal. India’s Moody wants to turn India into a world power, Obama said that the United States will lead the world for 100 more years. US president Trump introduced the concept of “America first” and is determined to make America great again. Almost all the big nations are designing their strategies in order to become the superpower or achieve rapid growth, or occupy the leading position of the world stage, which has intensified the game among themselves unprecedentedly.
Fourthly, the mainstream value of the world is fading away. What is the exact mainstream value? What are the changes in the western democracy? Politicians and thinkers in the west are rethinking the so-called democracy and they have started to doubt the public goods provided by their own countries to the world. President Trump thinks that it is not worthwhile to provide other countries with public goods and started to wonder should the US continue to pay for that in the future? All these indicate that the mainstream value in the west is fading away.
Fifthly, the rich-poor wealth gap is widening, not just between the rich and poor countries, but also between the rich and poor people within some countries. For example, the phenomenon of 1% and 99% in the US. When I was attending the “China-US Business CEOs and Former Senior Officials’ Dialogue” in Washington, there was a big crowd of protesters near our hotel, hanging a board on their chest with the slogan“1% and 99%”, which means that 1% of the American population possesses 99% of the total wealth.
Last but not least, the change of banner man of economic globalization is the most remarkable change, which might continue to trigger changes in world pattern in the future. The US was the banner man, now, nonetheless, it has given up economic globalization, some international order it used to maintain and some traditional western values. From a global perspective, the once victors now actually look like losers, the beneficiaries look like as if they were victims, contributors look like if they were destroyers, and the democrats look like as if they were dictators. These changes not just made people feel unbelievable but also made the world knotted. A lot of things around the world have experienced disruptive changes and the global pattern is also going through profound changes.
Under such kind of circumstance, the BRICS nations need to exert themselves and make the BRICS nations the real golden brick not stone, so that the BRICS can become an ensemble of great value. The closer cooperation among the BRICS nations will play a bigger role in the international community, and bring the new glimmer of hope to the world, amid the complex and changeable international situation.
The next question is how should the BRICS nations cooperate? I will answer this question in five aspects.
Firstly, the cooperation among the BRICS nations should change from discussion to pragmatism gradually, from conference and summit to specific ways of cooperation, projects, agenda, goals, and the paths of cooperation.
Secondly, the BRICS nations should search for more intersections at major international events, including the intersections of interest and the intersection at the international stage. Most of the BRICS nations are members of a number of international organizations, such as the G20, the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), and the RECP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership). The core of the BRICS mechanism has responded actively to the belt and road initiative by explicitly expressing that they want to take part in the initiative because the initiative is also an intersection. Therefore, the BRICS nations should enlarge the intersection of interest and express their voice at different international stages and occasions to represent themselves. The BRICS nations should represent the emerging economies and developing countries and their interests and improve their international position and discourse power.
Thirdly, the BRICS nations are able to promote the next generation of trade, the e-international trade, on which we have undertaken extensive researches for two years. The e-international trade involves cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and the net of things, which is more superior than the current general trade, processing trade, small border trade and procurement trade. This kind of new international trade requires the simplification of customs clearance in different countries, and the integrated customs clearance among various departments. China’s integration of customs clearance can be copied by other BRICS nations. Recently, I conducted a field trip in Zhengzhou, Henan, where five local departments realized electronic customs clearance and just one customs clearance will go through the entire process, including customs, taxation, inspection and drug administration. Thanks to the modern logistics and rapid sorting system, the clearance rate has reached 500 bills per second and is aimed at 1000 bills per second. The Zhengzhou international shipping logistics has 186 itinerates and six national first-class ports, making it a real hub city of international logistic based on the simplification of customs clearance.
Instead of struggling with the stock, we should increase the total amount of trade by promoting the new generation of international trade, otherwise we will not be able to sort out the current problems. For example, the US president Trump is not happy with the trade deficit and wants to do his own calculation, but he will not be able to have a clear calculation according to the traditional way of international trade. The US trade deficit is caused by many global factors and China’s export should not be the scapegoat of it. China’s export includes all the exports made by all manufacturers located in China, including that of the US companies in China. Trump does not study trade theory and does not care about it, he just can’t stand on any trade deficit. Therefore, we should work on how to increase the total trade in the future and promote the next generation of trade, which will face us and the US. We must occupy the height of morality and the next generation of trade, build a trading system based on easy customs clearance, online and offline integration, connectivity and mutual recognition to ensure that the export of the BRICS nations can proceed without any hindrance.
Fourthly, we should make the BRICS Bank more practical, flexible and stronger so that it can become a vital support to the construction in the BRICS nations. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) can be a good example. It has now 80 members and the number is likely to reach 100 at the end of this year, making it the second biggest bank after the World Bank. Asian Development Bank has only 67 members after years’ development, while the members of AIIB have reached 80 in less than three years. Although the BRICS bank is based on five countries, its members should not be limited to these five countries only. The BRICS banks can make third party investment and integrate itself with the building of the belt and road and other countries, so as to strengthen the power of financial support.
Last but not least, the BRICS nations should not just be limited to five countries and more emerging countries with great potential should be included, such as Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Iran. There is 11 such kind of countries. The economic trend will be bright for quite some time in the future and the GDP growth in these 11 countries will be above 6% before 2030. In my view, we should encourage and support other emerging economies to join the BRICS nations system, making the BRICS nations the true representative of the emerging economies and developing countries, and allowing them to play a bigger role in the international arena.