XIAMEN – The BRICS bloc of emerging nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – gathered Sunday in Chinese province of Fujian with President Xi Jinping heading the ninth summit for the first time, according to Xinhua news agency.
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These five countries now represent 44 percent of the world’s population and 23 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the start of the summit of five large emerging economies, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the world to reject protectionism even as American and European pressure mounts on Beijing to lower market barriers.
Lamenting that “protectionism and an inward-looking mentality are on the rise,” Xi said that “only openness delivers progress and only inclusiveness sustains such progress.”
Xi was speaking to the bloc’s business representatives a day before he opens a summit with the leaders of these major emerging markets in the southeastern city.
China holds the rotating chair of the emerging market bloc this year. The summit will be held in the coastal city from Sept 3 to Sept 5. It is the second BRICS summit to be held in China. The previous one was held in Sanya, Hainan province, in 2011.
While the Brics acronym is catchy, the Chinese translation means ‘gold bricks countries’, which conveys confidence in the future, says a Xinhua report.
With their strong economic performance, these countries are now key players in the world economy and in global governance when speaking for the developing world.
The Chinese president said he looked forward to working with other Brics leaders to ensure the Xiamen summit would deliver results that would inject fresh impetus into cooperation in the group, offer new solutions on improving global governance and make new contributions to world economic growth.
In March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said that China would explore options for expansion to a ‘BRICS plus’ and build a wider partnership through dialogue with developing countries and international organisations.
As for Chinese initiative the Belt and the Road, 68 countries and international organizations have signed agreements with China.
Total trade between China and the Belt and the Road countries exceeded three trillion US dollars between 2014 and 2016, while Chinese investment in those countries amounted to over 50 billion dollars.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday at the end of the BRICS summit in Xiamen for the first time since the resolution of the two-month standoff in Doklam along Sikkim border.
On Monday, Modi, who is expected to reach Xiamen on Sunday night, will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin followed by a meeting with President Michael Temer of Brazil.
Modi will also address the BRICS leaders’ dialogue with “BRICS Business Council”, which will be attended by 80 “Fortune 500” companies.
Xiamen, a tourist resort on the southeast coast of China, is known for its mild climate and beautiful scenery. It is one of the four international shipping centers in China.