BRICS to beef up ties in science

Zhang Zhihao
Displayed with permission from China Daily

BRICS countries will continue to strengthen multilateral exchanges and cooperation to promote science and innovation, according to a declaration signed during a ministerial meeting in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

The five member nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – agreed that innovation is one of the major driving forces for sustainable economic development, Wan Gang, China’s minister of science and technology, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“Science, technology and innovation have played crucial roles in providing jobs, promoting structural reforms and market competition and tackling global challenges,” he said. “BRICS nations have to strengthen the role of science and technology, facilitate multilateral science projects and people-to-people exchanges, and build frameworks for long-term projects and cooperation.”

BRICS countries account for 42 percent of the world’s population, 18 percent of the world’s GDP, 17 percent of total research funding and 27 percent of all published science papers, Wan said.

“BRICS nations’ strong role in global science development is becoming more evident,” he said. “More multilateral cooperation and exchanges at all levels are beneficial in unlocking the scientific potential of each member nation.”

BRICS nations will promote training and exchanges for young scientists, encourage young entrepreneurs to innovate and share their experiences, and support the role of female scientists in science and innovation.

China recently held the second BRICS Youth Scientists Forum in Hangzhou, and many great ideas emerged, Wan said. Some of the proposals from the forum will be incorporated into the BRICS summit scheduled for Sept 3 to 5 in Xiamen, Fujian province.

South Africa will host the next BRICS science and technology ministerial meeting.

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s science minister, said her country will build on the solid foundation of BRICS cooperation, and carry out the action plans agreed to at the Hangzhou meeting.

South Africa is now working with China to establish science parks, she said. “We would like to draw experience from China about building incubators because we believe this can lead to more innovation.”

-Repubhub/China Daily

Indian politicians vote to elect new president

Politicians from both houses of India’s parliament have cast their ballots to elect the country’s next president, with two candidates from the lowest rank of the Hindu caste system – Dalits – vying for the largely ceremonial post.

The candidate from the ruling BJP, Ram Nath Kovind, a 71-year-old lawyer turned politician who was until recently governor of the eastern state of Bihar, is predicted to win.

Kovind is also backed by several regional parties.

His main rival is Meira Kumar, 72, who was India’s first female speaker of the parliament and a former federal minister. She is backed by the main opposition Congress party.

The new president – India’s 14th – will take over from Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran Congress politician, who completes his five-year term on July 24.

The day-long polling was being held simultaneously in the national and state capitals, according to India’s Election Commission.

The votes will be counted on July 20.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, was among the first to cast his vote at a booth in Parliament.

“The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time no party has made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate,” Modi said on Twitter on the eve of the poll.

“Every political party has kept in mind the dignity of this election.”

Against the odds

Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party leader,  acknowledged on  Sunday  that the odds were stacked against the opposition’s candidate.

The president is chosen by an electoral college of two houses of parliament and state assemblies.

The BJP has over two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament, and runs governments by itself or in alliance with other parties in 17 of India’s 29 states.

The winner of Monday’s contest will be India’s second president belonging to the Dalit community, after KR Narayanan, who was president between 1997-2002.

Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, are on the lowest rank of India’s tradition social system based on caste.

India’s president is the head of the state, but executive powers are vested in the prime minister.

The president, however, has an important role to play when elections produce hung parliaments, state governments are dissolved and during other political crises.

BRICS members embrace open economy

An Baijie in Hamburg
Displayed with permission from China Daily

Xi tells leaders a multilateral trade system will bear fruit for all people

The leaders of the BRICS countries reached important consensus on building an open world economy and improving global economic governance during their informal meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday.

President Xi Jinping presided over the meeting, since China holds the rotating presidency of the BRICS bloc this year.

The BRICS Summit will be held from September 3 to 5 in Xiamen, Fujian province.

Xi said in his speech that there are currently positive signs for the world’s economy, with a promising future for the development of BRICS countries, and at the same time, there are also challenges ahead for the BRICS members.

He called on the member countries to establish an open world economy, maintain a multilateral trade system and push forward open, inclusive, beneficial, balanced and win-win economic globalization, thus making the fruits of economic growth accessible for all people.

The BRICS countries should unswervingly stick to the principle of multilateralism in addressing conflicts and disputes, strive to achieve peace and cooperation, and make full use of multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations to discuss international rules, he said.

In his speech, Xi highlighted the importance of the G20 in boosting international economic cooperation and improving global economic governance.

The consensuses reached at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou last year and other G20 summits should be implemented to create a good environment for the development of emerging economies and developing countries, Xi said.

Xi also encouraged the BRICS countries to play a leading role in supporting developing countries, especially African nations, to help them to improve development capacity.

Saying that preparations for the BRICS Summit in Xiamen are going smoothly, Xi added that he expected to make joint efforts with the other BRICS members to achieve fruitful outcomes, deepen BRICS cooperation, offer new solutions to improve global governance and contribute to global economic growth.

South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the meeting and agreed that the BRICS countries should keep the good momentum of cooperation on politics, economy and people-to-people exchanges to push forward practical cooperation of the BRICS members, according to a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry.

They also agreed to work together to send positive messages in the G20, to push the international order to develop in the direction of being more just and reasonable, and to create a better environment for the development of emerging markets, the statement said.

-Repubhub/ China Daily

BRICS Ministers of Education issues Beijing Declaration of Education

Displayed with permission from China Daily

Having met in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China on July 4th and 5th, 2017 to discuss education reforms, approaches to promoting equity in education and fostering quality education, strengthening BRICS collaboration in the field of education, and exchange of students and scholars and teaching faculty among BRICS Member States.

5th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education

Beijing, July 5, 2017

BEIJING DECLARATION ON EDUCATION

We, the BRICS Ministers of Education and assigned representatives of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of South Africa,

Having met in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China on July 4th and 5th, 2017 to discuss education reforms, approaches to promoting equity in education and fostering quality education, strengthening BRICS collaboration in the field of education, and exchange of students and scholars and teaching faculty among BRICS Member States;

Recalling Brasilia Declaration on March 2nd, 2015, Moscow Declaration on November 18th, 2015 and New Delhi Declaration on September 30th, 2016;

Committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4)-Education 2030 which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” that was set within The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;

Recognising the significance of collaboration in the field of education for enhancing the overall partnership among BRICS Member States and enhancing people to people exchanges to a higher level;

Realising that the scale of education development in BRICS Member States is expanding rapidly, and that all Member States face common challenges in promoting educational equity, accessibility and in improving the quality of education;

Considering that higher education contributes to the development of high-level human resources and intellectual support for the economic and social development, studies of BRICS Member States will enhance the mutual understanding between each Member State; and

Recognising that the mobility of faculty and students, and sharing of information among the Member States is of great importance for the implementation of the consensus arrived at the Meetings of BRICS Ministers of Education;

For ensuring coordinated and deeper cooperation among the Member States, hereby declare to:

1. Reiterate support for the BRICS Network University (NU) to collaborate in the fields of education, research and innovation. Encourage universities to participate in the BRICS University League.

2. Increase cultural cooperation through language education and multilingualism to promote mutual understanding of the history and culture of BRICS Member States.

3. Undertake initiatives to promote professionalisation of academics in higher education through the BRICS Network University as a focus of future education development.

4. Encourage more teachers and educational administrators to learn from experiences of other countries in improving teacher quality and performance, and promoting the development of education through international exchanges.

5. Strengthen cooperation in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), share ideas and experiences in the development of vocational educators, and develop projects that are of common interests to BRICS Member States.

6. Recognise the importance of BRICS Think Tanks Council (BTTC),BRICS Network University as well as other BRICS initiatives, and encourage the streamlining of mechanisms for their closer cooperation to ensure the alignment of their work.

7. Emphasize the importance of streamlining the cooperation among educational think tanks and education researchers, and welcome China’s invitation to host a conference to explore possible cooperation among the various entities in BRICS Member States.

8. Encourage the organisation of “youth winter/summer camps” to reinforce communication and cultural exchanges among the young generation from BRICS Member States.

9. Encourage Member States to expand the number of scholarship opportunities to students across BRICS Member States.

10. Share the experiences and practices in achieving the SDG4-Education 2030 targets in order to foster a more favorable policy environment, adopt effective practices, andadvocate for globaleducationalpolicies that take into accountthe common concerns and priorities of the BRICS Member States.

11. Encourage the participation in the 3rd BRICS NU Annual Conference to be held in 2018, in Cape Town, South Africa and in the BRICS Global Business and Innovation Conference to be held in September 2017, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, and the Republic of South Africa extend their appreciation to the government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting the 5thMeeting of BRICS Ministers of Education.

The English version of this Declaration has been signed on July 5th, 2017 in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. The Declaration has been executed in five (5) original copies, each copy being equally authentic and valid.

Federative Republic of Brazil

Russian Federation

Republic of India

People’s Republic of China

Republic of South Africa

Hong Kong remains a preferred business hotspot 20 years later

Stephen Ng
Displayed with permission from China Daily

Two decades into the reunification with the country, Hong Kong is still very much the destination of choice to do business and start a business, and the regional services hub to procure professional and financial services, despite the economic and political challenges we have faced during the interim.

Over the past 20 years we have witnessed many ups and downs and with each cycle we emerged stronger, leaner and more experienced. There is no denying that we perhaps have been over-obsessed with political issues in recent years. This has cost us valuable time in upgrading and sharpening our competitive edge, while our neighbours have progressed rapidly.

Despite lagging behind on a few areas such as innovation and technology, the economic and political challenges over the years have made us smarter and more sophisticated in doing business. I believe Hong Kong is going through another cycle, as the economy adapts to technological, economic and social changes. At times it feels excruciatingly challenging but we are not alone. Economies around the world all face similar challenges in one way or another. However, this downtime gives us a window to take stock of how we can hone our strengths and, more importantly, address our weaknesses.

Take Hong Kong’s investment property sector for example: Both landlords and tenants have become much more sophisticated and they have worked together to enhance the value of their properties. It applies across the retail, office as well as hotel sectors. Furthermore, landlords and tenants have applied their Hong Kong expertise to enter the Chinese mainland market and there have been many success stories.

We are also hearing many success stories about how young startups are embracing technology for disruptive innovation and to explore new business opportunities. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has been helping our members better understand, and be equipped to succeed in the digital era. Besides organising regular seminars, we work closely with various organisations in Hong Kong and around the world to give our members a first-hand look at what other businesses are doing. For example, our visit to Barcelona, the world’s leading smart city, showed our members the multi-dimensional advantages a smart city has. We are also actively looking into topics such as fintech, reg-tech (regulatory technology), internet of things and artificial intelligence, and how businesses, as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, can use these tools to improve our lives, environment and competitiveness.

Looking ahead, we need to seize the opportunities that the Belt and Road Initiative opens up. Closer to home, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area initiative will foster closer technological and economic cooperation between Hong Kong and neighbouring cities, and help enhance our competitiveness. Opportunities like these rarely come along, and we are in the perfect place to capture a slice of this huge potential.

To put it in perspective, if the Greater Bay Area were a country, it would already have the 10th largest GDP in the world. It is in the same league as India and Brazil among the BRICS countries and much larger than Russia and South Africa. Compared to other countries, it is also much more concentrated, and is right on our doorstep. The initiative presents a unique opportunity for Hong Kong, and if we seize this opportunity, we will secure a much brighter future for our future generations.

To maximise Hong Kong’s potential, we need to be united as a community and an economy. We need to take our can-do spirit further, and be a valuable partner in the far-sighted national initiatives of the Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area. We in the business community are ready to grasp these opportunities.

– Repubhub/China Daily