Monday 25 September 2017

Brics countries oppose protectionism and urge UN reform

Chinese president Xi Jinping speaks at the plenary session of the Brics summit in Xiamen, Fujian province (AP)
Chinese president Xi Jinping speaks at the plenary session of the Brics summit in Xiamen, Fujian province (AP)

The world's major emerging economies have agreed to oppose protectionism and called for comprehensive reform of the United Nations and its Security Council to make it more representative of developing countries.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) said they will work together to improve global economic governance to foster "a more just and equitable international order".

At a summit in China, they adopted a declaration that also strongly condemned North Korea's nuclear test on Sunday.

The host country, the world's second largest economy, wants Brics to play a more important role in international affairs.

Some observers suggest its influence is waning given the ongoing political and economic rivalry between China and India and the economic woes of Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

The south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen is hosting the two-day summit.

The Brics countries also vowed to strengthen cooperation against terrorism and a range of organisations in a declaration that includes some Pakistan-based ones, in a diplomatic victory for New Delhi.

The declaration named organisations including the Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Other groups mentioned in the Xiamen Declaration include Islamic State and al-Qaida.

China, a key ally of Pakistan, has repeatedly blocked India's attempts to have the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Masood Azhar, put on a UN Security Council terror blacklist.

India has accused arch-rival Pakistan of harbouring and training militants to launch attacks on its soil.

China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and has been seen as using that clout to gain an edge in its political and economic rivalry with India.

The nuclear-armed Asian giants recently ended a 10-week border stand-off high in the Himalayas that re-awakened memories of their 1962 frontier war, paving the way for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to attend the Brics summit in Xiamen alongside his host, Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The Xiamen Declaration also expressed concern about the Haqqani network that is active in Afghanistan, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, accused by Beijing of fomenting unrest in China's north-eastern region of Xinjiang.

An official at India's ministry of external affairs said it was the first time that there had been a specific listing of terrorist groups in a Brics document, and that it was "a very important development".

The official denied any connection between China's agreement to list the Pakistan-based organisations and the withdrawal of Indian troops from the contested Himalayan area.

"This is a multilateral forum with five sovereign countries. There is no linkage to any other development."

The declaration said nations should unite to fight the terrorist groups in accordance with the principles of international law, but emphasised the importance of not interfering in the sovereign affairs of individual states.

Press Association

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