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BRICS Summit: Xi slams unwillingness to combat climate change, trade protectionism

Published:Tuesday | September 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM
World leaders, (from left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian Province on Tuesday, September 5.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday warned that the world economy faces growing risks and uncertainties from countries turning inward on trade and resisting combating climate change, delivering an implicit rebuke to his American counterpart, Donald Trump.

Xi didn't refer to the United States by name, although Trump has said trade pacts are a threat to American jobs and decided to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement on climate change.

"Multilateral trade negotiations are having a difficult time. The implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change is encountering resistance," Xi told leaders of emerging economies and developing countries.

The agreement under which countries set their own national plans for cutting climate emissions went into effect in November.

"Some countries have become more inward-looking and less willing to take part in international co-operation, and the spillovers of their policy adjustments are deepening," he said during a summit of BRICS nations, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Xi's criticism came at the opening of a dialogue between the leaders of BRICS countries and five other developing nations invited to take part in the discussions on the sidelines of the summit in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen.

On Monday's opening day of the summit, the BRICS countries called for reform of the United Nations and tougher measures against terrorist groups, while denouncing North Korea's latest nuclear test.

The five also pledged their opposition to protectionism, a theme increasingly taken up by Xi despite what critics say are substantial barriers to foreign investment in key Chinese sectors such as electricity generation and telecommunications.

On Sunday, a day ahead of the opening of the BRICS Summit, Xi called for the world to reject protectionism even as American and European pressure mounts on Beijing to lower market barriers.

Speaking to business representatives of the BRICS nations, the Chinese president said "protectionism and an inward-looking mentality are on the rise", but that "only openness delivers progress and only inclusiveness sustains such progress".

This is the ninth summit of the BRICS grouping, which came together about a decade ago to push for an alternative world order that wasn't dominated by Western nations.

Xi said the BRICS nations had led the way in increasing the say of emerging economies and developing countries.

China has long been accused of putting up unfair barriers to foreign companies. However, Xi has become a leader who speaks out in favour of globalisation at a time when protectionist sentiments are on the rise in Western countries.

In January, Xi became the first Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he cast his country as a champion of free trade in contrast to the protectionist rhetoric of the United States.

- AP