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Cablegate: Mfa Reviews September 25 Bric Foreign Ministers

VZCZCXRO1257
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #4023/01 2960938
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 220938Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0586
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1715
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0440
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0337
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3434
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0540
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 9139
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 4653
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 4061
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4439
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0441
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1012
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0132
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2288
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2071
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 004023

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2033
TAGS: BR CH ECON EG ENRG GG IN MX PREL RS SENV SF
SUBJECT: MFA REVIEWS SEPTEMBER 25 BRIC FOREIGN MINISTERS
MEETING AND CHINESE VIEWS ON BRIC

REF: A. BEIJING 1315
B. BEIJING 3703

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. Reasons 1.
4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) Responding to ongoing global financial turbulence,
climate change and issues related to the G8-plus-5 grouping
were the topics at the September 25 meeting of foreign
ministers from Brazil, Russia, India and China (the "BRIC
forum"), according to an MFA contact. Despite the regional
and cultural differences among the four countries, the MFA
official said, recent meetings of the two-year-old forum have
shown the relative ease with which the four sides can
"express similar views" and "reach consensus." Pointing to
the rise in the number of BRIC meetings in 2008, he said that
the forum, in the eyes of Chinese officials, is "developing
very well and very fast." China believes the BRIC forum
"should be based on economic issues" and avoid political
content. Thus, China has not supported efforts by other
members to reach common views on political issues such as UN
Security Council reform, the Russia-Georgia conflict and the
peaceful development of nuclear power. Rather, China seeks
consensus within the BRIC on economic issues of common
concern, thereby strengthening the voice of developing
countries and creating a "more just and democratic
international system." China favors a gradual, focused
development of the forum, does not support expansion of the
group's membership, and has not decided on a proposal to
include heads of state in a 2009 BRIC Foreign Ministers
meeting in New Delhi. End summary.

September 25 BRIC FM meeting
----------------------------

2. (C) The two-year-old Brazil, Russia, India and China
(BRIC) forum is an increasingly effective platform for major
emerging economies to discuss issues of common concern, Liu
Zhiyong of the MFA International Organizations and
Conferences Department Economic Affairs Division told PolOff
October 8. Noting that the four BRIC countries collectively
comprise 42 percent of the world's population and accounted
for half of global economic growth in 2007 (as measured in
purchasing power parity), he said that as the world's chief
emerging economies, the four sides have "expressed similar
views" and "easily reached consensus on the issues" at the
forum's meetings.

3. (C) Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Indian Minister of State for
External Affairs Anand Sharma and Chinese Foreign Minister
Yang Jiechi at the September 25 third annual meeting of BRIC
foreign ministers in New York paid special attention to
development issues, global financial turbulence, climate
change and coordination within the G8-plus-5 group, Liu said.
FM Yang called on the BRIC nations to "push forward
cooperation" and to focus on "building political trust and
consolidating the basis of cooperation," including in the
financial sector. Liu said that worldwide financial
turbulence was "quite an issue" at the meeting and that the
four sides agreed to advocate "stepped up" reform of the
World Bank and IMF to strengthen these institutions'
supervisory powers.

BRIC meetings proliferate in 2008
---------------------------------

4. (C) Liu said the growing frequency of BRIC meetings
reflects the forum's rapid development. A 2001 Goldman Sachs
study on emerging economies first coined the term "BRIC," but
the BRIC forum took shape institutionally in 2006 when

BEIJING 00004023 002 OF 003


then-Russian President Putin proposed that BRIC foreign
ministers meet on the margins of the September 2006 UN
General Assembly. The BRIC foreign ministers next assembled
at the UNGA in September 2007. At the 2007 meeting, the BRIC
foreign ministers agreed that BRIC ambassadors to
multilateral institutions would meet regularly to coordinate
on issues. The BRIC foreign ministers met in their first
"stand-alone" meeting in May 2008 in Yekaterinburg, Russia,
met again in September, and plan to meet in 2009 in New
Delhi. BRIC deputy foreign ministers met for the first time
in March 2008 in Brazil. BRIC heads of state met briefly on
the margins of the July 2008 G-8 meeting in Toya-ko, Japan.
BRIC deputy finance ministers met in August 2008 in Brazil,
and a meeting of BRIC finance ministers on the sidelines of
the November 2008 G-20 Finance Ministers meeting in Sao Paulo
will be the sixth meeting of senior BRIC officials in 2008.

BRIC should enhance voice of developing nations
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (C) Liu said China sees the BRIC forum as an informal
grouping and a platform for exchanging ideas and expressing
views on "economic issues of common concern." As major
emerging economies with numerous shared interests, he said,
the four nations find many areas for cooperation. He noted
that the May 2008 BRIC Foreign Ministers' Joint Communique
called for the establishment of a "more democratic
international system founded on the rule of law," and said
the four countries agree that the views and interests of
developing counties should be heard and considered and that
"decisions affecting the international community should be
made in a more balanced way." Liu said, for example, that at
the July 2008 G8-plus-5 meeting, the G-8 nations set the
agenda with no input from the "Plus Five" nations of China,
Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa. Organizations like
the BRIC forum, he said, enhance the voice and influence of
developing countries and help gain "more respect and
involvement" from the G-8.

6. (C) Chinese scholars agree on four basic points concerning
China's participation in the BRIC forum, said Gao Zugui,
Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the China
Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a
Ministry of State Security-affiliated think tank on September
24. First, the BRIC nations play a "stronger and stronger
role in world affairs, especially economically." As the BRIC
grouping grows economically, its political influence also
rises. Second, though the influence of the BRIC Four is
expanding, the four nations remain on the "second level" of
world political and economic powers. The G-8 nations make up
the "first level." Third, the BRIC usefully helps developing
states improve needed cooperation on economic issues.
Finally, the rise of the BRIC forum reflects closer bilateral
ties and more frequent contacts among the four BRIC nations.

Political issues divisive in BRIC forum
---------------------------------------

7. (C) MFA's Liu said China would like to confine discussion
in the BRIC forum to economic concerns, but the other three
countries "want to discuss political issues." Liu indicated
that UN Security Council reform is the most divisive
political issue among BRIC members. Brazil and India,
seeking permanent seats on the Council, strongly support UNSC
reform, while China and Russia "have different views." Liu
said frankly that he does not think that the four sides can
resolve differences on UNSC reform. Differences over UNSC
reform scuttled the issuance of a joint communique at the
2007 foreign ministers meeting and were a divisive issue at
the March 2008 deputy foreign ministers meeting (ref A).
When Brazil and India raised UNSC reform a third time at the
May 2008 FM meeting, China again refused to endorse any
explicit statement of support for specific UNSC bids. The
resulting joint communique included only a vaguely-worded

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statement of support from China and Russia for "India and
Brazil's aspirations to play a greater role in the United
Nations." China, Liu said, still believes that the BRIC
forum is "not a suitable platform for discussing UNSC reform."

8. (C) UNSC reform is not the only political issue that makes
China uncomfortable in the BRIC forum, however. When the
Russian side presented a first draft agenda for the September
25 FM meeting in New York, Liu told PolOff, the agenda items
"were all economic in nature." One week before the meeting,
however, the Russian side presented a second draft, which to
China's surprise included "political issues of common
concern" (ref B), including the Russia-Georgia conflict. Liu
said the BRIC Foreign Ministers discussed the issue but "made
no special comments." Liu said China also opposes India's
efforts to include "support for peaceful development of
nuclear power" on the BRIC agenda, which, in Chinas view
should focus on economics and avoid political discussions.

China's conservative approach toward BRIC
-----------------------------------------

9. (C) Liu said that of the four members, Brazil is the most
"enthusiastic" about the BRIC forum. CICIR's Gao told PolOff
that Brazil and India have shown the most interest in "making
(BRIC) meetings regular." Contrasting China's reserved
approach with the more active views of other parties, MFA's
Liu said China is already involved in "very many fora, too
many fora," and therefore hopes that the BRIC's growth will
be gradual and "step-by-step." Immediately after describing
China's distinctively conservative view of the BRIC, however,
Liu added that although "there is a bit of a different level"
of enthusiasm among forum members, those differences "are not
huge."

Looking ahead: expansion and New Delhi 2009
-------------------------------------------

10. (C) Liu told PolOff that China "does not want the BRIC to
expand too fast." South Africa and Egypt have expressed
interest in joining the group and attending the BRIC forum,
but the other members have resisted, because South Africa and
Egypt "have different ideas." Liu conceded that South
Africa, Egypt and Mexico, as large emerging economies, should
engage in closer cooperation with the BRIC forum members.
However, China sees the BRIC as "developing very well" and
thus wants to avoid altering the group's structure.

11. (C) Regarding the 2009 BRIC FM meeting in New Delhi, Liu
revealed that "some" countries proposed widening the New
Delhi meeting to include the four sides' heads of state.
Such a meeting, he observed, would mark the first stand-alone
gathering of BRIC heads of state. China, "unsure if it
supports a stand-alone BRIC meeting of heads of state just
yet," has not taken a position on the proposal.
RANDT

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