Xi Jinping wants Brics to play more active role in global governance

(From left) Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the summit in Xiamen yesterday. Mr Xi said Brics should jointl
(From left) Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the summit in Xiamen yesterday. Mr Xi said Brics should jointly present solutions to issues of international peace and development.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He says the five member countries should speak with one voice and suggests more practical ways to work

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said the five Brics countries need to speak with one voice to bring about an international order that is more just and equitable.

Speaking yesterday at the bloc's annual summit, Mr Xi noted that the Brics members' ever closer ties with the rest of the world require that "we five countries play a more active part in global governance".

He conceded that members have not fully tapped the potential of cooperation, and suggested more practical ways to work together.

The bloc gathers five of the world's major emerging economies from four continents - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Mr Xi said: "We need to speak with one voice and jointly present our solutions to issues concerning international peace and development."

He added: "This... will help safeguard our common interests."

He stressed the need to reform the global economic governance, "increase representation and voice of the emerging market and developing countries" and to inject new impetus into efforts to address the North-South development gap, and boost global growth.

The bloc, in its joint declaration yesterday, said it would work towards "enhancement of the voice and representation of Brics countries" as well as emerging markets and developing countries in global economic governance and promoting an "open, inclusive and balanced economic globalisation".

Dr Raja Mohan, director of think-tank Carnegie India, said: "What the Brics does is to lend political legitimacy to China's aspirations for global economic leadership."

But Chinese analyst Wu Baiyi said Brics nations had come together because of a crisis in global governance. "One country can't give voice (to the need for change) alone, it does not have enough clout," he told reporters yesterday.

In what Indian media sees as a victory for its country, the declaration condemned terrorism and Pakistan-based terror groups, including those that have targeted India such as Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Chinese, at last year's summit in Goa, had refused to have this included.

This comes after the Xiamen summit was nearly marred by a stand-off between troops on the China-India border, which was called off just a week before the confab.

Dr Mohan said the stand-off might have helped China take a fresh look at India and its concerns, adding that growing uncertainty in China's ties with the United States may have encouraged Mr Xi and his team to be more accommodating of India.

Mr Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist of the consultancy IHS Markit, said a key focus of the summit would be whether China and India could rebuild bilateral ties. He said improved ties would drive progress among Brics states.

Mr Xi yesterday noted that Brics cooperation "still has more space" for growth. He said statistics showed that of the US$197 billion (S$267 billion) outbound investment made last year by the bloc's members, only 5.7 per cent took place among the five countries.

He also announced new funding for Brics - 500 million yuan (S$104 million) for an economic and technology cooperation plan, and another US$4 million for its New Development Bank. But these are seen as a far cry from the US$124 billion pledged by China in May for Mr Xi's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Noting the heavy BRI commitments, Mr Biswas said: "China may be taking a more cautious approach for the... summit by keeping new financial commitments relatively low."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Xi wants Brics to play more active role in global governance'. Print Edition | Subscribe