Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that the BRICS has shown resilience and vitality in the current global crisis and called on the five-member grouping to oppose the "abuse" of unilateral sanctions and reject "small circles", in an apparent jibe at the US.
In his opening address to the 14th BRICS summit via video link, Xi said over the past year, the world has faced the continued spread of COVID-19, a tortuous world economic recovery and increasingly salient peace and security issues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa took part in the annual summit hosted by President Xi.
"Facing the formidable and complex circumstances, BRICS countries have embraced the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, enhanced solidarity and coordination and jointly tackled the challenges," said Xi.
"The BRICS mechanism has demonstrated resilience and vitality. BRICS cooperation has achieved sound progress and results," he said in his speech posted on the website by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
But at the same time, he called on the BRICS nations to reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, oppose unilateral sanctions and abuse of sanctions, in an apparent reference to the sanctions by the US, EU and their allies against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
"We need to encourage the international community to practice true multilateralism and uphold the international system with the UN at its core and the international order underpinned by international law," he said.
He also urged the world to "reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, oppose unilateral sanctions and abuse of sanctions, and reject the small circles built around hegemonism by forming one big family belonging to a community with a shared future for humanity."
Beijing has been critical of the Quad (US, India, Japan and Australia) and AUKUS (US, UK, Australia) alliances, alleging they were aimed at containing China's rise.
Significantly, the summit was not telecast live by its official television channels, which carried commentaries on the BRICS countries.
Xi has been lashing out at the United States and the European Union in recent speeches for imposing sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. He reiterated the same in his address at the BRICS Business Forum on Wednesday.
China, a close ally of Russia, has declined to condemn Moscow for the invasion against Ukraine and maintained close political and business links.
Latest reports said China's crude oil imports from Russia have climbed to over 55 per cent from a year earlier last month displacing Saudi Arabia as Beijing's top supplier.
Xi stressed that the BRICS Summit is held at a critical juncture in the shaping of the future course of humanity. BRICS countries, as important emerging markets and major developing countries, need to act with a sense of responsibility to bring positive, stabilising and constructive strength to the world, he said.
"We need to speak out for equity and justice," he said.
He also said the BRICS countries need to "remain firm in our conviction that we will defeat the pandemic and act responsibly to protect our peoples and their lives.
"We need to build a strong line of defence against the virus, enhance international COVID response cooperation, and jointly defend people's lives and health," he said.
Also the BRICS countries "need to pool strength for economic recovery, step up macro-policy coordination, keep industrial and supply chains secure and unclogged, build an open world economy, and forestall and defuse major risks and challenges in global development, to work for more inclusive and resilient economic growth", he said.
He said the BRICS countries need to advocate sustainable and people-centred development, invest more in poverty alleviation, food, education, health and so on, and promote the implementation of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to bring stronger, greener and healthier global development.
Xi said he looks forward to an in-depth and vibrant discussion under the theme of "Fostering High-quality Partnership and Ushering in a New Era of Global Development to jointly contribute wisdom and ideas to the high-quality development of BRICS cooperation.
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