Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world should resist unilateral sanctions and efforts by some countries to maintain their political and military might — a veiled shot at the United States and its allies over opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Xi’s comments on Thursday at the virtual meeting of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, collectively known as BRICS, reflect China’s tacit support for Russia in the war in Ukraine and its desire for a to form an international alliance that opposes the US-led liberal democratic order.
Nations must “reject the Cold War and bloc confrontation mentality, 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,” Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
“As representatives of key emerging markets and developing countries, it is important to the world at a critical time of historical development that we make the right choices and takes responsible actions.”
The BRICS meeting came amid mounting concerns about the global economic outlook and a widening political divide between China and India.
While no agenda has been set for the two-day talks, Ukraine will likely appear very much in the background.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, blamed “ill-considered and selfish actions by certain states” for the global economic crisis, adding that “fair and mutually beneficial cooperation” is the only way out of the situation.
“This crisis that has formed in the global economy [is] caused by the thoughtless and selfish actions of certain states that, through financial mechanisms, are essentially blaming the world for their own mistakes in macroeconomic policy,” Putin said.
The Russian leader also said the BRICS’ influence worldwide is “steadily increasing” as member states deepened their cooperation and worked towards “a truly multipolar system of interstate relations”.
Countering US-led order
China has refused to condemn the Russian invasion criticizing sanctions against Moscow.
India has bought large quantities of Russian oil at a steep discount, and South Africa has abstained in a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s actions.
Xi, Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, I participated in the 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.
While this has yielded few tangible results, Xi persists with the idea of an alternative – and mostly authoritarian – way of global governance, investing heavily in countries like Cambodia while cracking down on civil rights in Hong Kong and boosting its military, For its territorial claims in the South China Sea and threats to annex Taiwan by force.
‘Irresistible historical trend’
Speaking at the BRICS Economic Summit on Wednesday, Xi said the conflict in Ukraine has “sounded an alarm signal to humanity”, continuing its formal neutrality position and backing its ally Russia.
Xi said the imposition of sanctions could act like a “boomerang” and a “double-edged sword” an that the global community would suffer from “politicization, mechanization and armament” of global economic trends and financial flows.
“Economic globalization is an objective requirement for developing productive forces and an irresistible historical trend,” Xi said.
The BRICS collective was founded in 2009 when the countries were seen as the potential engine for future global economic growth.
Since then, South Africa and Brazil have seen their economies plunge into crisis. In contrast, China’s growth has slowed sharply, and Russia has become embroiled in invading Ukraine and punishing economic sanctions imposed by the West.
China and India, meanwhile, argued 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, with casualties on both sides.