Fighting COVID-19 in Solidarity and
Advancing BRICS Cooperation Through Concerted Efforts
Remarks by H.E. Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
At the 12th BRICS Summit
Beijing, 17 November 2020
Your Excellency President Vladimir Putin,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
Your Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa,
Your Excellency President Jair Bolsonaro,
I wish to begin by thanking President Putin and the Russian government for their thoughtful organization of this BRICS Summit. Right now, the world is caught between a pandemic of the century and momentous changes never seen in the last one hundred years. The international landscape keeps evolving in profound ways. At such a critical moment, we are meeting to discuss our joint response to COVID-19 and draw a blueprint for the future of BRICS. The meeting has thus taken on a special significance.
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. Human society is going through the most serious pandemic in the past century. International trade and investment have shrunk considerably. The flow of goods and personnel has been impeded. Factors for uncertainty and instability are numerous. The world economy is witnessing the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Unilateralism, protectionism and acts of bullying are becoming rampant, and the deficit in governance, trust, development and peace is widening instead of narrowing.
Despite all this, we remain convinced 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. We must keep people’s welfare close to heart and pursue the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. Through concrete actions, we will contribute our share to making the world a better place for everyone.
First, we need to uphold multilateralism, and safeguard peace and stability in our world. 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. Flouting rules and laws, treading the path of unilateralism and bullying, and withdrawing from international organizations and agreements run counter to the will of the general public and trample on the legitimate rights and dignity of all nations.
Facing the choice between multilateralism and unilateralism, and between justice and hegemony, we BRICS countries must 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 social system, economic model and development path consistent with their national conditions. We need to champion the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We need to work through consultation and negotiation to address differences. We need to oppose interference in others’ internal affairs, as well as unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. With concerted efforts, we will foster a peaceful and stable environment for development.
Second, we need to enhance solidarity and coordination, and come together to meet the COVID-19 challenge. The coronavirus is still causing havoc in many places and waves of infection are resurging. Securing a worldwide victory against the pandemic remains an uphill journey. Nearly one year into the battle, many countries have gained important experience on 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.
What is important is that we put people’s life and health first, mobilize all resources and do everything we can to protect people’s safety and well-being. It is important to step up international coordination and response, and share information and epidemic control experience to stop the virus in its tracks. It is important that we support WHO’s crucial leadership role in this endeavor. 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. We will actively consider providing vaccines to BRICS countries where there is a need. To support the development of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center, China has designated its own national center. We will work with other BRICS countries both online and offline to advance collective vaccine research and trials, set up plants, authorize production and recognize each other’s standards. I propose that we convene a BRICS symposium on traditional medicine to explore its role in coronavirus prevention and treatment. This may well boost the global arsenal against COVID-19.
What has happened shows that acts of politicization, stigmatization, blame-shifting and scapegoating only serve to disrupt overall global cooperation against the virus. We need to overcome division with unity, replace bias with reason and stamp out the “political virus”. In this way, we will pool the maximum global synergy to beat the virus.
Third, we need to pursue openness and innovation, and promote global economic recovery. The IMF predicts that the world economy will shrink by 4.4 percent this year, and that emerging markets and developing countries will experience negative growth for the first time in 60 years. To stabilize the economy while controlling the pandemic is the pressing task facing all countries. Under the precondition that safety is ensured, we must actively pursue economic recovery and seek to carry out economic and social activities in an orderly way as we fight the virus on an ongoing basis. We need to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, follow through on the initiative on facilitating cross-border flow of people and goods, and keep industrial and supply chains safe and open to better enable the resumption of business activities and economic recovery.
The practice of using the pandemic to pursue “de-globalization” or clamor for “economic decoupling” and “parallel systems” will end up hurting one’s own interests and the common interests of all. Under the current situation, we need to stand firm for building an open world economy. We need to uphold the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core and reject abuse of the “national security” concept for protectionist purposes. We need to leverage the new business forms and models triggered by the pandemic, strengthen cooperation on scientific and technological innovation, and nurture an open, fair, equitable and nondiscriminatory business environment to bring about common development of higher quality and stronger resilience.
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. Not long ago, China launched a Global Initiative on Data Security, which aims to jointly foster a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace to enable sound growth of the digital economy. We look forward to support from our fellow BRICS countries.
Fourth, we need to prioritize people’s livelihood, and promote sustainable global 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. According to World Bank forecast, global per capita income might drop 3.6 percent this year, and some 88 million to 115 million people might be pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 is a challenge we have to face head-on. We need to call on the international community to place the implementation of 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 poverty reduction, education, health and infrastructure development. We need to support the UN’s coordinating role and foster global development partnerships that are more equal and balanced, so that the fruits of development will spread to more developing countries and the needs of underprivileged groups will be better addressed.
Fifth, we need 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. Recently, I announced at the UN China’s initiative to scale up its nationally determined contributions and adopt more forceful policies and measures to strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. You can count on China to keep its promise.