China hosts BRICS meetings amid mounting economic concerns

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday hosts a virtual summit with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, collectively known as “BRICS,” amid growing concerns about the global economic outlook and a growing political one Gap between them Beijing and New Delhi.

Even if no agenda has yet been issued for the talks, Ukraine is likely to remain in the background. China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion while criticizing sanctions imposed on Moscow. India has bought large quantities of Russian oil at a deep 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 scheduled to take part in the two-day discussions.

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.

That has yielded few tangible results, but Xi remains committed to the idea of ​​an alternative – and mostly authoritarian – form of global governance, investing heavily in countries like Cambodia while cracking down on civil rights in Hong Kong and beefing up his military to assert his claims make the South China Sea and threats to forcibly annex Taiwan.

Addressing the BRICS economic summit on Wednesday, Xi said the conflict in Ukraine has “raised an alarm for humanity” by maintaining his formal position of neutrality while supporting his ally Russia.

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

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

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

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

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

Since then, the economies of South Africa and Brazil have fallen into crisis, while China’s growth has plummeted and Russia is locked in invading Ukraine and punishing economic sanctions imposed by the West.

China and India, meanwhile, have been at odds over their disputed border and New Delhi’s defense partnership with the US, Japan and Australia in what is known as “The Quad”. Skirmishes along the border resulted in a major standoff in 2020, resulting in casualties on both sides.

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