Xiamen: Chinese President Xi Jinping today asked BRICS members to shelve their differences and accommodate each other's concerns by enhancing mutual trust and strategic communication, as he opened the 9th annual summit of the five member emerging economies.
The opening ceremony of the three-day BRICS summit started with BRICS Business Council in this southeastern Chinese city in Fujian province amid a downpour triggered by typhoon Mawar which had caused widespread disruption to the summit preparations. The typhoon also caused considerable disruption to flights.
BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - is a grouping of five emerging economies. The BRICS summit brings together the leaders of these countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, South African President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the summit.
In his speech broadly focusing on enhancing cooperation between the BRICS members, Xi said, "construction of a tall building starts with foundation. We have laid the foundation and put in place the framework for BRICS cooperation".
Outlining BRICS cooperation in the last 10 years, he said treating each other as equals and seeking common ground while shelving differences is important part of cooperation.
"In terms of BRICS cooperation, decisions are made through consultation (and) not by one country. We respect each other's model of development, accommodate each other's concern and work to enhance strategic communication and mutual trust," he told about 1,000 delegates from different countries.
"Given difference in national conditions, history and cultures, it is only natural we may have some differences in pursuing our cooperation," he said. "However with strong faith in cooperation and enhancing collaboration the BRICS countries can achieve steady progress in our cooperation."
The summit comes days after India and China ended a 73-day standoff in Dokalam by withdrawing troops from the area. The two sides were locked in a face-off after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the area.
In a candid speech without directly referring to differences, Xi referred to his multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a crucial component.
India had protested to CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. India also boycotted the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) hosted by China in May.
Xi said BRI is not a tool to advance any geopolitical agenda, but a platform for practical cooperation. It is not a foreign aid scheme, but an initiative for interconnected development which calls for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, he said.
"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," he said.
He also said BRICS should promote the "BRICS Plus" approach to build an open and diversified network of development partners.
China has invited Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as guest countries for the Xiamen BRICS summit as special guests like India invited BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic) leaders for last year's BRICS summit at Goa.
"We should get more emerging market and developing countries involved in our concerted endeavours for cooperation and mutual benefits," he said.
Xi said that in the past decade, combined GDP of the bloc has grown 179 per cent, trade increased 94 per cent while urban population expanded 28 percent, contributing significantly to stabilising the global economy and returning it to growth.
He also said the BRICS countries have been committed to multilateralism, fairness and justice in the past decade.
BRICS countries have endeavoured to fulfil their international responsibility, and have staked out their positions on major regional and international issues and made proposals for addressing them during the past decade, Xi said.
He said the BRICS countries should work to usher in second golden decade. Going forward BRICS countries have major tasks to accomplish, which are to grow economies and to strengthen cooperation, he said.
"It is time to set sail when the tide rises," Xi said, adding that countries should work to let their economic cooperation have more substance.
"Economic cooperation is the foundation of the BRICS mechanism," Xi said, referring to the progress in the operation of the New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement and in e-commerce, trade and investment facilitation, among others,
He also said BRICS countries should implement agreements and consensus already reached while actively exploring new ways and areas of practical cooperation.