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Xi warns against hegemonic practices, economic decoupling at BRICS forum

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said “group politics”, “bloc confrontation” and military alliances will lead only to “wars and conflicts”, urging the international community to oppose hegemonic practices in what appeared to be a veiled criticism of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), which Beijing has long accused of provoking Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“The tragedies of the past tell us that hegemony, group politics and bloc confrontation bring no peace or security; they only lead to wars and conflicts,” Xi said.

Xi appeared to use his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) business forum on Wednesday to reiterate China’s criticism of Nato and support for Russia – without directly mentioning either.

China has refused to publicly condemn Moscow for invading Kyiv or call it an invasion since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on February 24.

The Chinese president added that “blind faith in the so-called ‘position of strength’” and “attempts to expand military alliances and seek one’s own security at the expense of others will only land oneself in a security dilemma”.

“We in the international community should reject zero-sum games and jointly oppose [hegemonic practices] and power politics,” Xi also said, according to an English translation of the president’s speech in Mandarin that was released by the Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday evening.

Xi said disputes between countries should be resolved through dialogue and consultation and countries must stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains.

Beijing has also repeatedly accused the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) grouping – of which India is a member – of evolving into an Asian Nato seeking to contain China.

It wasn’t clear if Xi’s speech was also aimed at India – with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also speaking at the virtual forum – for being part of the Quad.

Besides Modi, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended and addressed the forum.

The Chinese leader spoke out against economic decoupling against the backdrop of a global economy threatened by a pandemic and security challenges.

“There is widespread concern in the international community that should such a tendency continue, the global economy will become compartmentalised and mutually exclusive,” he said.

China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy and drive to dominate global markets have prompted a backlash in the US, Europe and elsewhere, including calls to replace Chinese suppliers and reduce reliance on the Chinese economy.

“Economic globalization is an objective requirement for the development of productive forces and an irresistible historical trend,” Xi said.

“We should uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system, remove barriers to trade, investment and technology, and keep the global economy open,” he said.

“Going backwards in history and trying to block other people’s road will only block your own road in the end,” he added.

Xi also plugged two of his new campaigns the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative in his speech, besides praising his China’s “zero Covid” policy, which – criticised internationally as unsustainable – he said “put people and their lives first”.

In a rare confirmation directly from the country’s top leader, Xi said the Communist Party of China (CPC), of which he is the general secretary, will have its 20th Congress later this year.

“In the second half of this year, the Communist Party of China will convene its 20th National Congress, which will chart the course for the next phase of China’s development,” he said.

Xi is expected to be confirmed for a third term as CPC general-secretary at the 20th CPC Congress this fall and secure a unprecedented third term as China’s president in March 2023.

“We will ground our efforts in the new development stage, follow the new development philosophy, foster a new development paradigm and strive to achieve high-quality development,” he said of China’s development paradigm.

About 1,000 economic and trade ministers, envoys to China and representatives from the business community were present at the ceremony, the Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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