Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday chaired the ninth BRICS summit, calling on the group of five emerging economies to intensify cooperation and contribute more to a world troubled by protectionism and imbalanced development.
“We must redouble our efforts to usher in the second golden decade of BRICS cooperation,” Xi told leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa at the summit in the southeastern city of Xiamen, Fujian Province.
It was the first time that Xi had presided over the BRICS summit and the third time for him to chair major international events in a year, following the G20 Hangzhou Summit and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma were welcomed by Xi before the opening of the summit, themed “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future.”
The summit has been widely expected to set the future course for the group, which accounts for about 43 percent of the world's population and has contributed more than half of global economic growth over the past decade.
Xi raised his vision to “comprehensively deepen” BRICS partnership, including seeking practical results in economic cooperation, strengthening complementarity of development strategies and making the international order more just and equitable.
People-to-people exchanges, “a worthy cause that deserves enduring commitment,” should be promoted, according to Xi.
He noted the different national conditions of the five countries, but stressed differences can be transcended and win-win results achieved.
He called on BRICS members to bring their comparative strengths in resources, markets and labor force to release growth potential and the creativity of 3 billion people.
Refuting claims that the group is losing its luster, Xi told the BRICS Business Forum on Sunday that the BRICS countries are “fully confident” about their growth potential and future outlook despite headwinds that have caused setbacks in growth.
From G20 Hangzhou Summit in September last year to the BRICS summit in Xiamen, China's approach to global development is becoming more evident via partnership, open economy and win-win cooperation.
A trading port since ancient times and a gateway for China's opening up, Xiamen is where Xi started when he came to Fujian Province to take up a new official post in 1985.
He hoped the BRICS countries could set sail from the city to deliver greater benefits to the people of the five countries and around the world.
While uncertainties and downside risks persist with inward-looking policies weighing on global growth prospects, Xi stressed promoting results-oriented economic cooperation, “the foundation of BRICS cooperation,” he said.
The potential for BRICS cooperation has yet to be fully unleashed, Xi said, citing the five countries' foreign investment totaling 197 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, only 5.7 percent of which took place among BRICS members.
He urged advancing cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, monetary and finance, connectivity, sustainable development and innovation.
In the latest demonstration that BRICS is a task force that gets things done, the president announced China will launch an economic and technological plan for BRICS countries with 500 million yuan (about 76 million U.S. dollars) for the first term to facilitate exchanges and cooperation in the economic and trade fields.
China will also provide 4 million U.S. dollars for projects of the BRICS New Development Bank, which opened in 2015.
As a stabilizer in regional and international relations, BRICS has been working hard to gain a bigger say on the international stage.
The stance was reaffirmed by Xi at the summit. “We the five countries play a more active part in global governance. Without our participation, many pressing global challenges cannot be effectively resolved,” Xi said. “We should speak with one voice and jointly present our solutions to issues concerning international peace and development.”
He said the BRICS should work for a new type of international relations and push for economic globalization that is “open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.” Xi's speech was echoed by his counterparts at the summit.
Zuma said the BRICS should strengthen contact with other emerging economies and developing countries to pursue common development. The five countries should strengthen cooperation and improve global economic governance to create a sound external environment, said Temer.
For his part, Putin said the BRICS should build an open world economy, oppose protectionism and promote inclusive and sustainable growth.
Modi said BRICS countries should explore potential for economic cooperation, safeguard the multilateral trade system and promote people-to-people exchanges.
To consolidate their common ground, leaders of BRICS countries adopted the Xiamen Declaration, expressing consensus on various issues including the support for the UN's central role in international affairs, opposing protectionism, condemning terrorism and deploring the latest nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
During the Xiamen summit, China will hold a Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries, in which leaders of Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand will join the BRICS leaders in discussing global development cooperation.
The China-proposed model is considered part of a bid to promote BRICS as a leading platform for South-South cooperation.
For emerging economies and developing countries, “we should stick to openness rather than protectionism, multilateral trade mechanisms rather than benefiting oneself at the expense of others, mutual benefit rather than a zero-sum game,” Xi said at a smaller meeting of BRICS leaders Monday morning.
“It is easy to break one arrow, but hard to break 10 arrows bundled together,” Xi cited the Chinese proverb in his Sunday speech to call for involving more emerging market and developing countries in cooperation and mutually beneficial endeavors.
Iqbal Surve, head of the South Africa chapter of the BRICS Business Council, said “BRICS Plus” would be warmly welcome among developing countries as the initiative is aligned with the common purpose of shaking off poverty and realizing dreams.