As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin listened, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that the world must “give up the Cold War mentality” and “block confrontation” — and “resist unilateral sanctions and abuse of sanctions” .
Xi’s references to the Cold War and blocs at the annual five-nation group summit appeared to be aimed at NATO and the Quad, of which India is a part. And his mention of sanctions seemed to target the US and European curbs targeted by Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin also raised the issue of sanctions, but Modi steered clear of specific references and spoke of “governance of the global economy” in the context of the pandemic.
“While the magnitude of the epidemic has declined globally, many of its ill effects are still visible in the global economy. We, the BRICS member states, had a very similar view of the governance of the global economy. And so our mutual cooperation can make a useful contribution to the global recovery after Covid,” said Modi.
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Later, in a carefully worded joint statement, BRICS leaders said they “support Russia-Ukraine talks”. They also pledged to respect “the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of all states and to “peacefully resolve differences and differences between countries through dialogue and consultation”.
Earlier, Xi, who chaired the summit, said: “We must give up the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation and oppose unilateral sanctions and the abuse of sanctions. And it’s important for the world to recognize that forging a community with a shared future, like a large family, is so much better than building exclusive circles.”
The reference to “exclusive circles” is also a commonly used term by China for groups such as the Quad.
In his remarks, Putin said the BRICS could “find solutions to the crisis situation” in the global economy because of “ill-considered and self-serving actions” by some countries that “have used the financial mechanisms” – a clear reference to the West’s Sanctions.
“I am convinced that… BRICS leadership is relevant to design a truly positive, unifying force to form a multipolar system… based on the universal rules of international law and the key principles of the UN Charter,” Putin said.
Modi did not respond or share these concerns in his statement.
While the Prime Minister’s statement was audible to the domestic public, there was a technical glitch that prevented BRICS leaders from hearing his comments. Xi urged Modi to repeat the opening statement later, during the closing remarks.
Modi said BRICS initiatives, including setting up a vaccine R&D center, coordinating customs departments, setting up a shared satellite constellation and mutual recognition of pharmaceuticals, have direct benefits for people.
He said BRICS youth summits, sports and interaction between civil society organizations and think tanks have strengthened people-to-people contact.
Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also attended the virtual summit.
In the joint statement, the leaders said: “We have discussed the situation in Ukraine and recall our national positions as expressed in the appropriate forums, namely the UN Security Council and the UNGA. We support the talks between Russia and Ukraine. We also discussed our concerns about the humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine and expressed our support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, UN agencies and the ICRC to provide humanitarian assistance….”
The statement, or statement, also made an important point in the context of the war in Ukraine and the stalemate on the India-China border. “We commit to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, emphasize our commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, and support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises” , it said.
As for Afghanistan, the leaders emphasized that territory “should not be used to threaten or attack any country, or to host or train terrorists, or to plan to fund terrorist acts.” They stressed that all sides should encourage the Afghan authorities to achieve national reconciliation through dialogue and to set up an inclusive and representative political structure.
On terrorism, the statement said: “We are committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the cross-border movement of terrorists, and terrorist financing networks and safe havens. We reiterate that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.”
Modi’s participation in the 14th summit came after New Delhi opted for a virtual summit rather than an in-person event in China. The decision was taken in view of tense bilateral ties over the two-year stalemate at the border in eastern Ladakh.
China is hosting this year’s summit in its capacity as BRICS chairman. Beijing had held an outreach to revive bilateral dialogue and pave the way for the BRICS summit in China, with Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi to come on March 24 for an unannounced visit to New Delhi.
Beijing had proposed a series of events to kick-start the dialogue, starting with possible high-level visits from both sides. China’s ultimate and clear goal was to host Modi for the personal summit. But the move was unsuccessful.
The last BRICS summit to take place in China was in Xiamen in September 2017, attended by Modi – this was shortly after the Doklam border deadlock was resolved. The last face-to-face meeting between Modi and Xi was in Brazil before the BRICS summit in November 2019.
The BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) brings together five of the largest developing countries, representing 41 percent of the world’s population, 24 percent of global GDP and 16 percent of world trade.