The group agrees to strengthen cooperation against organisations it described as "terrorist" and pledges opposition to protectionism.

(L-R) Brazils President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Africas President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian Province, China, September 4, 2017.
(L-R) Brazils President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Africas President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian Province, China, September 4, 2017. (Reuters)

At an annual summit that has largely been overshadowed by North Korea’s apparent test of a hydrogen bomb, the five BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – condemned several terror groups originating in Pakistan without naming the country, on Monday.

The grouping agreed to strengthen cooperation against a range of organisations it described as "terrorist" – a statement which New Delhi hailed as a diplomatic victory.

The five also pledged their opposition to protectionism, a theme increasingly taken up by host Chinese President Xi Jinping as rising anti-globalisation sentiment in the West threatens China's vast export markets.

In the 43-page declaration, Xi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Michel Temer and South African President Jacob Zuma said they would work together to improve global economic governance to foster "a more just and equitable international order."

They also strongly condemned North Korea's sixth – and most powerful – nuclear test that took place Sunday.

Preeti Saran, an official with India's Ministry of External Affairs, said each leader had referred to North Korea's nuclear test when they spoke during their meeting.

Uniting against terrorism

The 71-point BRICS Summit 2017 Xiamen Declaration named the Afghan Taliban, Daesh, Al Qaeda and “its affiliates” which included “the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e -Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan] and Hizbut Tahrir.” 

Other groups named as affiliates included Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

While TTP, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Laskhar-e-Taiba remain tethered to Pakistan, Hizbut Tahrir originated from Jerusalem in the 1950s and Haqqani Network from Afghanistan in the 1970s.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is of particular concern to India as it accuses the group of attacking Indian installations in India and Indian-administered Kashmir with the help of Pakistan.

A week before the summit, China dismissed India’s desire to discuss its concerns on terrorism coming from Pakistan by saying that BRICS was not the right forum. 

Beijing, a longtime ally of Pakistan, also defended its neighbour after it was reprimanded and warned by US President Donald Trump in his South Asia policy speech in August.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, in Xiamen, China, on September 4, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, in Xiamen, China, on September 4, 2017. (Reuters)

Trumped by North Korea

The summit has been overshadowed by North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which came on Sunday just hours before Xi opened the meeting with a keynote speech, and prompted a vow of a “massive” military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened.

Though China’s foreign ministry has condemned the test, Xi did not mention North Korea during that 45-minute address or in his televised remarks during Monday’s plenary session.

The BRICS grouping said in its communique that it strongly deplored Pyongyang’s test, but that the problem over its nuclear programme should only be settled through peaceful means and dialogue.

“We express deep concern over the ongoing tension and prolonged nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” it said.

North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July that could fly about 10,000 km (6,200 miles), putting many parts of the US mainland within range and prompting a new round of tough international sanctions.

Though angered over the tests, China – North Korea’s closest ally – has lambasted the West and its allies over recent weeks for promoting the “China responsibility theory” for North Korea.

Opposing protectionism

The Xiamen declaration said BRICS countries will continue to firmly oppose protectionism as they are committed to an “open and inclusive” multilateral trading system.

The communique emphasised the need to be vigilant in guarding against “inward-looking policies” that could hurt global market confidence, and called upon all countries to fully implement the Paris climate agreement.

BRICS funding

China will give $80 million in funding for BRICS cooperation plans, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday, while the bloc of five emerging countries pledged to oppose protectionism.

Xi offered $76.4 million for a BRICS economic and technology cooperation plan, and another $4 million for projects at the group’s New Development Bank (NDB) during a three-day leaders summit in the southeastern city of Xiamen.

China’s new contributions to BRICS pale in comparison to its $124 billion pledge earlier in May for Xi’s own Belt and Road initiative, which aims to expand links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond as a new way to boost global development.

The announcement came amid questions over the relevance of BRICS and China’s commitment to the NDB in light of the Belt and Road initiative and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, both key efforts by Beijing to bolster its global influence.

Set up in 20l5 as an alternative to the World Bank, the Shanghai-based NDB was seen as the first major BRICS achievement after the group came together in 2009 to press for a bigger say in the post-World War II financial order created by Western powers.

The BRICS leaders will gather in Xiamen through Tuesday, giving host China its latest chance to position itself as a bulwark of globalisation in the face of Trump’s “America First” agenda.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies