As the 9th BRICS Summit gets under way in the Chinese city of Xiamen, President Xi Jinping urged the group to promote trade liberalization and an open world economy.
Xi asked member countries to put aside any differences they may have to enhance mutual trust and strategic communication in his opening remarks at the meeting of emerging economies, adding that the "construction of a tall building starts with a foundation. We have laid the foundation and put in place the framework for BRICS cooperation."
The head of state also explained that the Belt Road Initiative was not a tool to advance any geopolitical agenda. "I am convinced that the BRI will serve as a new platform for all countries to achieve win-win cooperation and that it will create new opportunities for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazil's Michel Temer, South African President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin are all attending the meeting.
The 10-year-old group has grown significantly since it made its debut on the international stage amid the economic boom of developing countries. The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will explore new strategies for strengthening their economies.
Xi added that he still had “full confidence” in the BRICS countries’ development despite claims that the bloc’s relevance had faded due to slower growth. “The development of emerging market and developing countries ... will diligently grow the world economic pie,” he said.
BRICS leaders will be joined by observer countries Thailand, Mexico, Egypt, Guinea and Tajikistan, and officials will discuss a “BRICS Plus” plan to possibly expand the bloc to new members.