BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against “expanding” military ties on Wednesday in a speech ahead of a virtual summit with top leaders from Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Beijing is hosting the meeting of the influential club of BRICS emerging economies, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.
Three of its members — China, India and South Africa — have abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Xi told the BRICS business forum that the “Ukraine crisis is... a wake-up call” and warned against “expanding military alliances and seeking one’s own security at the expense of other countries’ security”.
Modi to avoid anti-US messaging at the summit
China and India have strong military links with Russia and buy large amounts of its oil and gas.
In a call last week, Xi assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that China would support Moscow’s core interests in “sovereignty and security” — leading the United States to warn Beijing that it risked ending up “on the wrong side of history”.
South Africa, one of the few African countries wielding diplomatic influence outside the continent, has also not condemned the Russian military action.
Xi took a swipe at US and European Union sanctions on Russia in the speech on Wednesday, saying “sanctions are a boomerang and a double-edged sword”.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations will meet next week in Germany to discuss how to proceed with sanctions against Russia.
The BRICS summit takes place as Russian troops continue to pummel eastern Ukraine after invading the country four months ago.
China and India have both ramped up crude oil imports from Russia, helping to offset losses from Western nations scaling back Russian energy purchases.
Once bitter Cold War rivals, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up cooperation in recent years.
President Putin was in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in February, just days before the invasion of Ukraine started.
Beijing and Moscow also flew bomber aircraft over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea while US President Joe Bidenwas in Tokyo in late May — signalling strong military links between the two countries.
China said at a BRICS foreign ministers meeting in May that it wants other emerging economies to join the grouping, though it is unclear whether new members have been invited.
Our Correspondent in New Delhi adds: As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi braced for his first face to face meeting, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, albeit a virtual one, since a violent spurt in border tensions marred their bonhomie, local reports said he would try to avoid anti-US-messaging at the BRICS summit on Thursday.
Reports said Mr Modi’s government is expected to seek to delay China’s effort to expand BRICS by pushing the organisation to decide on criteria for adding members. Last month, China proposed that the grouping should start a process to include more countries.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022