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Insights | South African scholar: Stronger BRICS helps to break Western hegemony and unilateralism

2023-08-28 Editor : Wu Xinru ECNS App Download

By Lin Zhuowei


(ECNS)--"This bloc(BRICS)will have an enormous influence on multilateral organizations like G20 and South-South cooperation," Dr. Farhana Paruk, head of Client Engagement at Gordan Institute of Business Science (GIBS) at the University of Pretoria and a former fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, shared her views on the 15th BRICS Summit during an interview with China News Network.

Paruk has studied China for over 20 years, specializing in China-Africa relations. As a guest speaker for this year's BRICS Summit, she recalled that discussions were pretty intense at the scene, and she expects the results to have an enormous influence on multilateral groups like G20 and South-South cooperation.

Against the backdrop of increasingly challenging situations, regional hotspots, including the prolonged crisis in Ukraine and the complicated U.S.-China relations, have elevated the issues of global governance and inclusive multilateralism to the top of the agenda.

Multilateral mechanism represented by the BRICS, a global union focused on dialogue and the partnership of civilizations, would play a bigger role in coping with the current crises in geopolitics, trade, climate, and more, she said.

In Paruk's opinion, the 15th BRICS Summit could be a "watershed" in global governance. Recognizing humanity in each other’s civilizations, the like-minded BRICS countries came together in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual learning, providing "a realistic alternative to the unbridled anti-developmental agenda emanating from the Global North". The mechanism poses a real challenge to the hegemony of Western countries and the unipolar world order. 

Paruk thinks that the theme of inclusive multilateralism is in line with the intrinsic values of humanity and inclusiveness of the BRICS countries. She compared the humanitarian philosophy in Chinese Confucianism with the traditional idea of "Ubuntu" in South Africa, highlighting the fundamental similarity of the two in terms of the care for humanity and the interconnections between humans. She added that South America has also developed profound and rich cultures preaching a harmonious lifestyle with nature. 

Citing the concepts advocated by China that cultural exchanges must transcend differences, mutual learning overcome clashes, and coexistence must oppose feelings of superiority, Paruk pointed out that the BRICS mechanism, built upon multilateralism, presents an alternative answer to the well-known "clash of civilizations" put forth by American political scientist Samuel Huntington, who believed that rising powers would inevitably collide with existing powers.

Economic development is another topic of focus at the summit, which carries strong relevance amid downward economic pressure in the post-COVID-19 era. According to data released in March 2023 by Acorn Macro Consulting, a UK-based macroeconomic research firm, the five BRICS members together contributed nearly 31.5 percent of global GDP. Paruk noted that considering the sheer size of the BRICS economies, the mechanism will no doubt inject more resources and vitality into the global economy, granting larger access to global markets and bringing more economic and trade benefits.

As a South African scholar, she also emphasized the significance of China in promoting the implementation of the BRICS mechanism as well as the Belt and Road Initiative in South Africa and the larger African continent.

She mentioned that South Africa is undergoing a serious energy crisis, and China has provided it with solar energy technologies and other critical technical assistance to support its migration to greener energies. Moreover, a slew of infrastructure projects is under construction in African countries along "the Belt and Road".

Paruk expressed her hopes for further cooperation between China and South Africa in the energy sector, saying the BRICS countries need to step up efforts in trade, energy, and infrastructure to fulfill relevant goals, including the eradication of poverty and the promotion of economic growth in the Global South.


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