Category: Columns and media

When bad controversies drive out the good ones: rehabilitating scientific controversy

At a time when Covid variants are multiplying, what is known genetically about this virus, from the processes of its emergence, to the role of virology in the analysis of its current evolution, to the genetic origins of its transformation into a pandemic, as well as the hypothesis of the possible role of humans and virological laboratories in its rise? What are the hypotheses supported by facts and debated by scientists, the controversies based on scientific protocols?

From the emergence of a pathogenic virus to the pandemic and variants: virology’s point of view

To shed light on these questions, this dossier presents our exchanges with Sterghios Moschos, researcher, virologist, with Gabriel Gras, former virology researcher and biosafety expert, and with Professor Jacques Cohen, physician and scientist, professor of immunology.

Sterghios Moschos introduces the panorama of the scientifically debated theses, Gabriel Gras tackles the questions linked to the origins of the virus and the functioning of the biological security laboratories and finally Jacques Cohen tackles the questions linked, starting from the virus, to the emergence of the disease and then to its transformation into a pandemic, in order to draw some lessons on a better coordination between disciplines, between science and the public authorities.

Finally, in a current situation where the International Conference for the Conservation of Nature is being held, we open the question of the relationship between humanity and nature.

When bad controversies drive out the good: rehabilitating scientific controversy

When a new epidemic erupts into the world, virology and epidemiology are initially blind to the DNA of the virus, its capacity to spread and contaminate, as well as its origins. Eventually, these scientific fields become more astute, able to see more clearly the DNA of the virus, its family of possible reservoirs and hosts, becoming potentially clairvoyant later on its capability to spread, transform as well as its origins, resulting eventually in the creation of a vaccine.

However, science takes time and a certain protocol, during which hypothesises need to be raised and de-bunked, or confirmed, fully or partially. This is a classic process of science in the making, well established since modern science developed, well understood by the epistemology of sciences including Gaston Bachelard and others; in this context, “scientific controversy” helps unearthing the truth from gathering, accumulation and minute interpretation of facts.

In the post-media age, however, politicised as it is, scientific controversies often escape the preserve of science, leak or get leaked by the media, and can even be intentionally diffused as propaganda by all sides or state/philanthropy/media machines. The current pandemic most likely has not escaped this trap.  

To this, time may still clarify the debate, but an interesting tool is provided through “Mapping” controversies (MC). As defined by Wikipedia: MC is an academic course taught in science studies, stemming from the writings of the French sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour. MC focuses exclusively on the controversies surrounding scientific knowledge rather than the established scientific facts or outcomes. This “mapping” helps sociologists, anthropologists and other social scientists get insights not into scientific knowledge per se, but rather into the process of gaining knowledge. MC sheds light on those intermediate stages corresponding to the actual research process whilst pinpointing the connections between scientific work and other types of activities.”

“Mapping of Controversies” goes against political controversy, and controversy in the right sense ought to be re-appropriated by those it belongs to by sheer design of science: the scientists.

To read more on this topic, Joël Ruet, President of The Bridge Tank, has published an article in french on the website La Tribune : Coronavirus _ un analyseur de la complexité des relations hommes-animaux _

The Bridge Tank also wrote a note on scientific controversies and a literature review: The Bridge Tank COVID19 – A note on scientific controversies and a Literature review

Read the transcript of each interview here: Verbatim – Interview Sterghios Moschos_FINAL; Verbatim – Interview Jacques Cohen_FINAL; verbatim – Interview Gabriel Gras_FINAL

‘China, new Atlantis between the United-States and Europe?’ Joël Ruet deciphers the triangular power-play in his latest article in Euraktiv and The Tribune

There is no longer denying that America, under Biden’s new administration, is preparing to confront the growing presence of China within the global arena by waging what many have called the ‘new Cold War’. Despite growing concerns over what America’s aggressive stance could bring to the future, as echoed by the likes of Bernie Sanders, the China-centric discussions conducted by the American president during the recent series of world summits, from the G7 to NATO, confirm this claim. His recent tour to Europe was essentially a call to arms to his allies, a congregation of democratic powers and values. However, within the friction created by the shifting of these political tectonic states, Europe declines to choose a side, its leaders evoking in response repeatedly the term; “strategic autonomy”. In refusing to align explicitly with either America or China, Europe plans to forge its own destiny; with China’s entry into the Northern Atlantic, the political fabric of the world is being restitched. 

This, in short, is the context of Joel Ruët’s recent article published on the website La Tribune, titled: ‘China, the new Atlantis between the United-States and Europe?’. Anchored on the analysis of dialogues that took place over the recent series of world summits, Ruët’s article explores not only the meaning behind Europe’s key phrase: “strategic autonomy”, but also what this strategy entails for its potential partnerships with America and China. Through profound and precise analyses of the events and dialogues which took place over the recent series of summits, Ruët presents crucial observations and outlooks within the tense context of an American-China Cold War 2.0. 

Read the article in French here: https://www.latribune.fr/opinions/tribunes/la-chine-nouvelle-atlantide-entre-les-etats-unis-et-l-europe-887357.html

Read the article in English, republished by Euraktiv here: https://www.euractiv.com/section/china/opinion/china-the-new-atlantis-between-the-united-states-and-europe/ 

Download the PDF version in French here: La Chine, nouvelle Atlantide entre les Etats-Unis et l’Europe

EU-US Summit : towards a new transatlantic partnership ?

“America is back” and the Trump years are behind us, as evidenced by the holding of the EU-United States summit in Brussels on June 15, 2021: being the first meeting of this type since 2017, it marked the launch of a renewed partnership and a joint program for cooperation between the EU and the United States, following a sectoral approach. This meeting notably enabled three major commercial achievements to revive and deepen transatlantic trade in a context of Sino-American tensions.

 Civil aircraft cooperation agreement closes 17-year dispute

Leaders Joe Biden, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, have committed to creating a cooperative framework for large civil aircraft, taking a major step toward ending the dispute over the sector. After 17 years of dispute between Brussels and Washington before the WTO, this agreement initiates a new transatlantic relationship in the aeronautics sector. At the root of the dispute: illegal subsidies granted to aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing. Under the Trump administration, tensions were exacerbated and the WTO authorized the imposition of taxes on $7.5 billion worth of imported European goods and services, including 25% on wine and 15% on Airbus aircraft. 

At the end of the summit, the leaders announced the suspension of punitive tariffs imposed on each other, as part of a five-year truce. The resolution of this dispute, which has plagued bilateral relations, is a strong signal that the Biden administration is moving toward a rapprochement that will create a level playing field and address new industrial challenges. 

This search for appeasement reflects an attempt to bring the EU on board in the US tug-of-war with China by strengthening the U.S.-European position. Especially since this former duopoly of aircraft manufacturers is now becoming an oligopoly with the entry of the new Chinese player Comac. This common-sense measure therefore also has the potential to counter the Chinese breakthrough in this sector and to challenge China’s perceived unfair competition practices. The idea is also to set up an effective cooperation model to jointly address other challenges posed by China’s economic model. While it is not certain that a compromise will be reached at the end of this truce, there is a real American will to reach an agreement. Indeed, when the dispute began in 2004, Airbus was gaining ground on the international market to the detriment of Boeing, whereas today the threat comes from China and it is time for unity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Negotiations to resolve steel and aluminum dispute underway

Leaders agreed to begin discussions to resolve the steel and aluminum trade dispute and to lift all additional and punitive tariffs by the end of the year. Ursula von der Leyen announced a working group on this issue that has marred transatlantic relations since Donald Trump announced in 2018 the imposition of taxes of 25% on European steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports, provoking European countermeasures in return. 

Lifting these taxes in the spirit of appeasement that prevails today would be a much-awaited political gesture by the EU, which expects strong actions beyond intentions. However, this diplomatic gesture should not change the face of European trade, nor turn the European steel and aluminum market upside down, as prices have risen in an unprecedented manner over the past six months, drowning out the impact of the US taxes.

Moreover, the actual resolution of the conflict is likely to be thorny, as the EU does not have a tariff and trade logic but a border tax logic that is different from the United States. The partnership is not self-evident and leaves the door open to a possible rapprochement with China, whether on the American or European side. 

The establishment of an EU-US Trade and Technology Council 

It is no longer a question of Europe and the United States entering into a free trade logic, as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiated since 2013 is no longer relevant. However, a Trade and Technology Council will be created to provide a platform for cooperation on trade, investment, technology, digital issues and supply chains. It embodies a willingness to cooperate in developing compatible and international standards and to promote innovation while avoiding unwarranted new trade or technical barriers. It will enable the partners to align on global technology issues, such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, clean technologies… Both sides have already committed to a partnership on rebalancing semiconductor supply chains as a priority. 

This third announcement is both the most imprecise and the most structuring for the future of EU-US bilateral relations. At a time when a technological war seems to be underway with China, the issue of technological coordination is central. After a first American and commercial globalization, which was undermined by the Trump years, Biden now has the project of knitting a new one, which will take the form of technological liberalization. 

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum in the media

Since 2018, the Chairman of the Bridge Tank Joël RUET participates to the BOAO Forum, of which this think tank is a partner. This year, he spoke alongside international leaders in politics and business, such as Dmytro KULEBA, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens ESKELUND, vice-president at the European Chamber of Commerce in China, or LIU Hualong, president of China Poly Group.

He was one of the three French panelists, embodying the circle of think tanks, while Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN and Henry GISCARD D’ESTAING, respectively represented the political and economic world. This high-level meeting was marked by the resumption of exchanges in a world undergoing reconstruction after a pandemic which disrupted interactions between countries.

During the BOAO forum, the “Chinese Davos”, Joël Ruet participated in the session “Speed up Trade Connection in Times of Pandemic Isolation”, where he developed the idea that “the trade of tomorrow is prepared by the investments of today”.

 

In the context of the 2021 edition of the BOAO Forum, Joël Ruet offered avenues for thoughts on environmental cooperation between China, the European Union and the United States during an interview with CGTN TV. He also mentioned the need to strengthen coordination between the G20 and the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), and addressed the issue of governance of these new Silk Roads to these journalists.

Joël Ruet was also quoted by CCTV13, a Chinese national news channel, about the role of BOAO in the economic integration of Asia, but also of the world on a global scale.

In an interview with Xinhua News on the occasion of the opening of the Forum, the president of the Bridge Tank presented his point of view on the trade of tomorrow, necessarily based on proactive and ambitious investments, the greening of the New Silk Roads and a reform of the WTO.

Mentioned in an article in Xinhua News about the place of China in sustainable development on a global scale, Joël Ruet argued that the BRI has a big role to play in the energy transition, in particular in the field of hydrogen.

 

 

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum for Asia 2021: a partnership anchored in a shared vision for the future

The Bridge Tank at the annual “Chinese Davos” meeting

After a year of pandemic which led to its suspension in 2020, the BOAO Forum renewed its annual conference from April 18 to 21, 2021 in a context fluctuating between resumption of international trade and temptation to withdraw. As such, the “Chinese Davos” plays a decisive role in the international calendar by advocating an open multilateral dialogue, at a time when the Covid19 has lastingly disrupt the international balance and created a series of new challenges while exacerbating those which pre-existed to it.

Since 2018, the chairman of the Bridge Tank Joël RUET has participated to the BOAO Forum, of which the think tank is a partner. As every year, he spoke at a high-level conference alongside international leaders from the political and business worlds, such as Dmytro KULEBA, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens ESKELUND, vice-president at the Chamber of European trade in China, or LIU Hualong, president of China Poly Group, but also the director general of the WTO, Ngozi OKONJO-IWEALA, or the South Korean Minister of the Environment.

He was one of the three French speakers, embodying the circle of think tanks, while Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN and Henry GISCARD D’ESTAING, respectively represented the political and economic world. This high-level platform of dialogue, eagerly awaited in the context of a return to international discussions, aspires to build a global consensus and promote common and sustainable development. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the measures takenby the BRI countries to keep the economic and trade volume roughly stable and normal during the COVID-19 pandemic when the global economy plunged, and cross-border trade and investment slowed down. The role of China-Europe Railway Express in stabilizing the global supply chain was also discussed, as well as the role played by e-commerce in renewing and developing international economic cooperation. In the context of an implementation of the New Silk Roads, but also of an Investment Agreement between the EU and China which is debating, the future of Sino-European relations also occupied the space of discussion.

For Joël Ruet, chairman of the Bridge Tank, “the investment of today makes the business of tomorrow”

In his speech, Joël Ruet stressed the need to optimize Eurasian trade, embodied by the rise of the China-EU Railway Express, by emphasizing the role of upstream investment. As such, it calls for a rebalancing of trade, in favor of exports of European technologies and equipment to China. On this point, the Bridge Tank discussed at length the subject of the EU’s competitive advantages to be brought to bear in its trade with China.

He also addressed the energy issue : the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could play an important role in connecting the two hydrogen champions Asia and Europe. The Bridge Tank has also developed several avenues of cooperation in terms of research that it would be strategic to develop between the two regions.

Joël RUET added that the EU did not intend to tackle the climate issue as one subject among others, but as an issue that conditions and prevails over everyone’s interests, and compared this approach to the Blinken line: dealing separately with technological rivalries and coordination for the climate. Joël Ruet said it remains to be seen whether this separation is audible by the Chinese side.

He also reflected on the place of Africa in the Belt and Road Initiative, suggesting that Africa wants and must find its place there. According to him, investments on the African continent, still too limited to infrastructure, would benefit from further enhancing contact between individuals by focusing on human capital and skills training.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister in favor of an ambitious European cooperation on hydrogen

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry raised the many challenges brought to light by the pandemic. He argues that international trade will play a key role in the global economic recovery, provided cooperation is boosted. To achieve this, and like Ukraine, which is posed as a strategic logistics hub, the regions of the world must enhance their connectivity in order to foster multilateral interactions.

He advocates enhanced European cooperation in the sector of alternative energies such as hydrogen. He therefore calls for coordinated efforts to invest in hydrogen technologies, ensuring that Ukraine intends to play its role as a strategic partner. The Bridge Tank shares with interest the Minister’s enthusiasm for innovative cooperation around hydrogen, as evidenced by these numerous works on the subject.

For Jens Eskelund, Managing Director of Maersk and Vice-President at the European Chamber of Commerce in China, “the business world allows constructive international dialogue beyond politics”

Jens Eskelund spoke about the pre-Investment Agreement between the EU and China, whose ratification has been suspended due to political disputes. For him, this is the dangerous symptom of a phenomenon of politicization of world trade: the political circle meets the business world. However, this situation is untenable in the long term: both parties must be aware of the need to maintain an open dialogue. For him, trade remains the area where constructive and frank links can be maintained regardless of political differences. The business world therefore has a role to play in maintaining contact where diplomatic relations face an impasse.

According to him, and the Bridge Tank totally agrees with him, international cooperation is indeed crucial to meet future challenges such as the climate challenge: on this subject, the EU and China cannot afford to develop technologies in parallel without converging.

LIU Hualong and the importance of working towards a state of trust to rebuild international relations

In a context of tension in diplomatic exchanges, the CEO of Poly Group insisted on a return to a state of trust, a necessary prerequisite for any trade or international investment. According to him, sharing experience and building trust are essential to rebuilding a sustainable post-covid world and stabilizing the global supply chain.

Joël Ruet bounced back from this intervention, emphasizing that constructive relations must be rooted in a state of mutual understanding, fueled by international networks and cultural projects. In fact, for a rapprochement on investment to be made by companies, it is essential to get to know each other, through multicultural initiatives.

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum : to go further

If the Bridge Tank has been a faithful partner of the BOAO Forum since 2018, it is because it works to offer a vision of the world converging with the vision shared at BOAO, in favor of openness and cooperation. The interviews suggested below, given by Joël Ruet to Chinese media, allow us to deepen the meaning of this shared vision.

During an interview with CGTN TV, Joël Ruet proposed avenues for reflection on environmental cooperation between China, the European Union and the United States. He also mentioned the need to strengthen coordination between the G20 and the BRI and addressed the issue of governance of these new Silk Roads to these journalists.

Joël Ruet was quoted by CCTV13, a Chinese national news channel, about the role of BOAO in the economic integration of Asia, but also of the world on a global scale.
 
In an interview with Xinhua news on the occasion of the opening of the Forum, the president of the Bridge Tank presented his point of view on the trade of tomorrow, necessarily based on proactive and ambitious investments, a reform of the WTO, and the greening of the New Silk Roads. Quoted in an article of Xinhua news on the place of China in sustainable development on a global scale, Joël Ruet argued that the BRI has a big role to play in the energy transition, in particular in the field of hydrogen.
 
To find all the media resources of the Bridge Tank about this 2021 Edition of the BOAO Forum : (insert link of the short post).
 

Senegal: The political crisis shaking the country

3 of our Founding Board Members from Senegal were mobilized in the international and national media during the restlessness the country experienced; Aissata Tall-Sall (on Francde 24) Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elhaj Kasse (on TFM) Special Adviser to the President and Mamadou Lamine Diallo ( on TFM), member of the National Assembly and one of the leaders of the democratic opposition.

Elhaj Kasse, Special Advisor to the President on TFM (Télé Futurs Medias) for a special program: how to get out of the crisis?
Mamadou Lamine Diallo, member of the National Assembly interviewed on TFM (Télé Futurs Médias)

Minister Brice Lalonde and former UN deputy SG discusses ecological transition with the Bridge Tank

Brice Lalonde, who served as French Minister for the Environment, UN Under-Secretary-General for Climate, and Executive Coordinator at Rio+20, detailed the major issues at stake around the ecological transition around which powers must engage in a new cycle of technological cooperation.

Prospects for Sino-European cooperation

The former minister recalled that the electrification of our economies is key for the transition, requiring the deployment and improvement of techniques such as batteries, electrolysers, and more broadly raising the question of large-scale electricity production. Brice Lalonde believes that it is in this context that nuclear energy is most relevant and should be subject to technological exchange. He recalled, by way of example, the previous signing of a France-China agreement on the construction of a nuclear waste reprocessing plant.
The speaker also mentioned several times the prospect of future use of synthetic fuels, which consist in capturing and reusing the carbon dioxide initially emitted as energy. Brice Lalonde thus insisted on the distinction between present and future energy resources, illustrating his point with the example of water, which should become a strategic resource because of the technology of water electrolysis, allowing for the production of hydrogen.
Finally, the former minister addressed the research issues surrounding carbon fixation, in the form of artificial photosynthesis or through the sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2), on which China and the EU must also work together.

Global governance and the future of international trade

On the other hand, and apart from Sino-European relations alone, Brice Lalonde more broadly presented the lack of international cooperation on ecological issues as the main shortcoming preventing the deployment of the ecological transition on a large scale. In his opinion, a paradigm shift is necessary consisting in the establishment of a minimum of global governance on these subjects, in contrast to the current configuration where sovereign climate programmes are simply added together, without any supranational dimension. He believes that we lack major international cooperation agreements, concerning gas for example, where the gas industry should have coordinated to finance the transition of coal-based economies to gas, which emits much less CO2. It therefore seems crucial to him to revitalise multilateralism, in order to carry out projects such as the establishment of a common carbon market on an international scale.

Finally, on the subject of international trade, the former Environment Minister was able to oppose a shared opinion that would like to present it as an outdated practice in a world seeking to achieve carbon neutrality. On the contrary, Brice Lalonde stated that trade can be ecological. “We absolutely need trade. Trade can be a very powerful ally for the environment,” he said. To do so, trade rules should no longer focus solely on finished products, but also on production standards (i.e. regulating production-related greenhouse gas emissions). From this point of view, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) still has its place in the world of tomorrow. The WTO has already accepted the primacy of environmental law in prior cases, when this law is enshrined in international agreements. In the future, states could thus theoretically take advantage of international ecological agreements imposing production standards in order to block imports from countries that violate them.

Lalonde was one of the keynote speakers of the Bridge Tank’s forum on the post-COVID-19 EU-China cooperation. He took part in a panel entitled « Green development or ecological civilisation? », which was moderated by Wen Cui-Pottier, former journalist of the Shangai Media Group. This forum took place in the Brongniart Palace in Paris on the 15th of October 2020.The other speakers of this session were Nicolas Imbert, Executive Director of Green Cross France & Territoires and two members of the Bridge Tank’s board : Guillaume Henry, President of the Association of the Ecological Analysis of Law, and Zhao Wei, researcher at Sun Yatsen’s University.

Minister Edmond Alphandéry exchanges with Bridge Tank experts about carbon pricing

Edmond Alphandéry, former French Minister of the Economy and Chairman of the Task Force on Carbon Pricing, gave a long explanation of his vision of the place and importance of carbon pricing in the ecological transition, and highlighted the decisiveness of this measure in order to achieve the objective of carbon neutrality, within the framework of the Paris agreement.

Carbon pricing: an essential tool for the ecological transition

Minister Alphandery began by reminding us of the scale of the challenge posed by global warming and the complexity of the issues at stake : given that we emit 40 billion tons of CO2 each year, he explained that if we reasonably assume that the price of a ton of CO2 should be set at around 100€ (according to the main evaluations), then a carbon pricing system would cost €4,000 billion each year, which amounts to Germany’s Gross National Product (GNP).

In this context, the former minister sees carbon pricing as central to the fight against global warming. His explanation is simple: when carbon has a price, all economic agents (households, companies, the State) are encouraged to reduce their emissions, or even to stop them or to find alternatives, in order to reduce their expenses.
The speaker specified that there are two solutions currently applicable and applied in order to put a price on carbon. The first is a carbon tax, which is simple and effective, but politically difficult to implement and whose adjustment is complex. The second is the introduction of a carbon market, where emission permits are issued according to the total volume of emissions desired. Permits are bought by market participants in proportion of what they emit, and their price is defined by supply and demand.
According to the chairman of the Task Force on Carbon Pricing, the tautological advantage of the carbon market is that it is a market, and that it therefore encourages innovation and the adoption of virtuous behaviour by agents in order to resell their permits (see the example of Tesla in the United States). However, it has the disadvantage of being characterised by a high volatility of carbon pricing.
It is this last reason that prompted the former minister to chair the Task Force on Carbon Pricing in order to promote among decision-makers a targeting of the price of carbon rather than volumes, as is currently the case. On the European carbon market, for example, he said that this would give stability to a carbon price that had collapsed during the subprime crisis, and also increase visibility.

Against the threat of climate change, China must adopt and extend carbon pricing

Edmond Alphandéry then spoke about the role of China, whose place he considered to be unavoidable regarding these issues. The country’s emissions are indeed higher than those of the United States and Europe combined. In this respect, he pointed out that the Chinese government is aware of the importance of the issues at stake and has already promoted a number of ecological transition measures. For instance, he stated that there is already a carbon pricing system in China, even if the price remains largely insufficient for now and is limited to the energy sector.
The former minister also stated that, in his view, there is a real Chinese will to carry out reforms. He particularly welcomed the initiatives and discussions that are taking place between various European and Chinese personalities, discussions in which he himself took part, in order to defend a convergence of the carbon prices of the two powers.
For Edmond Alphandéry, if such a reform was promoted, it would be no less than a revolution in the fight against global warming.

In conclusion, the panelist made a proposal to the Chinese authorities regarding their major strategic programme that is the BRI. As the government increases energy investments, especially aimed at thermal power plants, Edmond Alphandéry would consider it relevant and effective to introduce an internal carbon price in the companies and industries financed by Chinese funds. This would simulate a carbon price and thus encourage decarbonisation, while sending a strong message to the international community by underlining the importance that China attaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Edmond Alphandéry said he would be ready to support such an initiative immediately.

Alphandery was one of the main speakers at the Bridge Tank forum on EU-China cooperation post-Covid-19.
He participated in a panel moderated by Philippe Coste, former French ambassador, on greening investment in the European Union (EU) and China, and on the challenges of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). The forum took place at the Palais Brongniart in Paris on 15 October 2020. Other speakers in this session were Pierre-Noël Giraud, Professor of Economics at the Ecole des Mines de Paris, Djellil Bouzidi, member of the Haute Autorité de la Statistique and of the Bridge Tank’s Board, and Song Luzheng from Fudan University.

Exchange on the role of culture in international relations between Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO and the experts of the Bridge Tank

The first woman elected as Director-General of UNESCO, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bulgaria in 1996, and former Bulgarian ambassador to France, Irina BOKOVA is a passionate politician, who shares the values ​​of openness and dialogue with the Bridge Tank. During her career, she became involved in international efforts in favor of equality between women and men, education for all and access to culture. Among her many fields of action, scientific cooperation for sustainable development is particularly close to her heart. She has also pleaded for Bulgaria’s membership of the EU and NATO, and continues to campaign for European integration by promoting the values ​​of diversity and human rights.

Irina Bokova, Board member of the Bridge Tank and co-organizer of the EU-China post-covid Cooperation Forum

From the opening session, the former Director-General of UNESCO recalled that Sino-European cooperation should take into account a human and cultural aspect, like said in the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, which will allow a constructive link in the economic, political, security and environmental fields.

She gave a more “UN” dimension to the debates, to reflect on multilateralism, globalism and the climate, in which China and the EU are key actors. Dialogue between these two powers is therefore essential to build a more inclusive, sustainable and multilateral post-covid world and reform the multilateral system, as she said in the Forum on January 21. Irina Bokova insisted on the growing role of China in this project : she recalled President Xi Jinping’s carbon neutrality commitments by 2060, the central place of China in the recovery of global activity, as well as Beijing’s role in integrating culture and science into the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

What post-covid human exchanges?

Irina Bokova federated the debates around the question of human exchanges, be they cultural, educational or scientific in the development of a vision of the future. This essential theme must be part of the wider debate on geopolitical issues and ecological transitions. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed that there is a convergence in the thoughts on this aspect of cooperation between the EU and China, which are two great cultural powers. It is therefore an essential aspect of the current debate on the refocusing of Sino-European relations, all the more crucial as China has invested heavily in the areas of culture and identity in recent years.

Indeed, Xi Jinping has revived a major UNESCO project, the Silk Road, by giving real importance to heritage, cultural and identity issues. The new Silk Roads, beyond trade flows, must play a role in building intercultural bridges. In addition, China now ranks first on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This sector is an integral part of its economy, showing the world that culture and its industries can play a significant role in the growth and trade of a country.

The digitalization of cultural exchanges

Irina Bokova dwelled on the place and dangers of digital in the promotion of culture. With its ability to create bridges between societies, it has enormous potential, to such an extent that the United Nations will soon adopt measures that makes access to digital a human right. However, she warned of the worrying risks associated with technology : it tends to standardize and erase diversity and threatens to fragment societies by creating isolation and alienation in communities.

On the condition therefore of being part of an ethical approach at the service of humanity, technologies remain a space of extraordinary creativity and an unparalleled connection platform, making it possible to link museums to the digital world by arousing curiosity about cultural projects. The former director of UNESCO concluded that a nation never awakens without curiosity for its culture, something that China understood well when it completed in seven years the construction of 5 000 museums, and for the culture of the others, pillar of all cooperation and bulwark against intolerance.

 

Irina Bokova is a Bridge Tank’s Board Member, which regularly shares her thoughts and expertise. She notably co-organized and opened the post-Covid EU-China Cooperation Forum alongside Joël Ruet, President of the Bridge Tank and Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to China.

On October 15, 2020, this “hybrid” Forum brought together four former ministers, five former ambassadors and around thirty experts at the Palais Brongiart in Paris, as well as around a hundred registrants on three continents, to share nourished, informed and precise on economic, industrial, social and cultural questions on the EU-China relationship.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira
Copyright 2020 - The Bridge Tank