BRICS cooperation offering golden opportunities
South African student Wilma Hugo is talking with her classmate in Xiamen University. By Lin Shanchuan, Xinhua/China Features
A South American style square where 4,000 people can enjoy churrasco and beer while watching Samba dancing -- this is something the Chinese city of Xiamen is likely to have in the near future.
With the help of Xiamen businessman Su Guoli, Refain Group, a Brazilian steakhouse brand, is looking to build such a site in the coastal city.
Born in 1959, Su has been doing business in Europe since the 1990s. He shifted his business to Brazil in 2010 and began to import fine Brazilian wooden and jewelry products to the Chinese market.
Now he works in Xiamen as a liaison officer for the Brazilian city of Iguazu.
Last year, Su founded a football club in Xiamen aiming to enhance sports exchanges between the two cities. A series of friendly competitions, football training and summer camps will be held.
Su said he is looking forward to the upcoming BRICS summit to be held in Xiamen from Sept. 3 to 5, when leaders from top emerging markets including China and Brazil will gather to deepen cooperation in various fields including trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges.
During talks with his Brazilian counterpart Michel Temer Friday in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said bilateral trade, investment and finance cooperation had been flourishing over the past year. He said the two countries should expand cooperation on trade, agriculture, culture, tourism and sports.
Xi and Temer also witnessed the signing of cooperation documents ranging from industrial capacity, e-commerce, electricity, tourism, health to culture and other areas.
The BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- have become a major driving force in the global economy. Featuring fast growth and sharing common ground for development, the countries have been seeking to expand their cooperation.
Lin Siming, founder of e-commerce company Xiamen Wang Ji Group, decided to share the successful experience of China's booming e-commerce with Russia and offer more quality Chinese products to Russian consumers.
Over the past three years, the company has constructed a 20,000 square-meter warehouse and built a logistics network in Russia. Earlier this year, it launched its Russian e-commerce platform UMKA.
Previously, it took as long as a month for Chinese products to reach the doors of Russian buyers, but the new platform has shortened that to just a few days.
"There is huge market potential for online shopping in Russia with some 75 million Internet users, but the e-commerce infrastructure is still inadequate," Lin said.
He said he hopes the Xiamen summit will bring more opportunities for his company.
"Chinese and Russian industries are largely complementary to each other, and I'm very much confident about the Russian market," he said.
The online retail sales of BRICS countries accounted for 47 percent of the global total in 2016. The figure is expected to climb to 59 percent by 2022 as the five countries have great potential in e-commerce cooperation, according to a report by Ali Research Institute affiliated with China's e-commerce giant Alibaba.
In early August, BRICS trade ministers met in Shanghai and approved an e-commerce cooperation proposal agreeing to strengthen cooperation in the area.
With the maturing of BRICS cooperation, the Chinese market has also opened wider and the Chinese culture has become more appealing to foreigners.
Brazilian businessman Marcos Caldeira came to Xiamen four years ago to learn Chinese.
Inspired by the entrepreneurial environment in the city, Caldeira opened his own company, selling Chinese stone products to South America.
In only two years, Caldeira's business has grown into a leader that exports marble to Brazil. Its export value exceeded 10 million U.S. dollars in 2016.
"I hope the summit will further promote trade between Brazil and China and reach more reciprocal deals," he said.
South African student Wilma Hugo is looking forward to more BRICS cooperation in education.
The 27-year-old is now studying Chinese at Xiamen University. Like many other international students, Hugo said she found Chinese difficult at the beginning, but after a while, she was carried away by the beauty of the language.
"After you have learned a lot of Chinese characters, you will start to recognize certain similar parts like radicals, and you can understand the meaning of new characters," she said.
She plans to go back to South Africa after graduation to be a Chinese language teacher.
"If I can help them understand Chinese culture, history and geography, that would be good," she said.
People-to-people exchanges are a highlight of the agenda at this year's summit, with many cultural activities to encourage mutual understanding. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday that more consensus will be built on people-to-people exchanges during the Xiamen summit.