China hosts BRICS meeting amid growing economic concerns

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting a virtual summit with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa collectively known as “BRICS” on Thursday amid growing concerns over the outlook global economies and a growing political divide between Beijing and New Delhi.

Although no agenda has been released for the talks, Ukraine is likely to figure largely in the background. China refused to condemn the Russian invasion while criticizing the sanctions imposed on Moscow. India bought large quantities of Russian oil at a huge discount and South Africa abstained in a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s actions.

Alongside Xi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are expected to join the two-day talks.

China has sought to use the BRICS meetings to advance its vision of an alliance to counter the US-led liberal democratic world order while expanding its economic and political footprint.

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It has produced few tangible results, but Xi remains committed to the idea of ​​an alternative – and mostly authoritarian – mode of global governance that invests heavily in countries like Cambodia while cracking down on civil rights in Hong Kong and strengthening its army to assert its claims in the South China Sea and threats to annex Taiwan by force.

In an address to the BRICS economic summit on Wednesday, Xi said the conflict in Ukraine had “sounded alarm bells for humanity”, continuing his official stance of neutrality while backing his ally Russia.

Xi said the imposition of sanctions could act as a “boomerang” and a “double-edged sword”, and the global community would suffer from the “politicization, mechanization and militarization” of economic trends and flows global financials.

“Economic globalization is an objective requirement for the development of productive forces and an irresistible historical trend,” Xi said.

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In a recorded video, Bolsonaro made no mention of any country and said that “the current international context is concerning due to the risks weighing on trade and investment flows for the stability of energy supply chains and investments”.

“Brazil’s response to these challenges is not to close down. On the contrary, we have sought to deepen our economic integration,” he added.

The BRICS collective was founded in 2009 when countries were seen as the potential engine of future global economic growth.

Since then, South Africa and Brazil have seen their economies mired in crisis while China’s growth has fallen sharply and Russia has been embroiled in its invasion of Ukraine and sanctions. economic punitive measures imposed by the West.

China and India have meanwhile quarreled over their disputed border and New Delhi’s defense partnership with the United States, Japan and Australia in what is known as “The Quad”. Skirmishes along the border led to a major stalemate in 2020, with casualties on both sides.

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