President Xi Jinping today urged the BRICS countries to seek “political and peaceful settlement” of “regional conflicts and disputes”, amidst a standoff between India and China in the Sikkim sector and Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the disputed South and East China seas. Xi made the appeal at an informal leaders’ meeting of the BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in the German city of Hamburg, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported. He pressed the BRICS members to unswervingly build an open world economy, champion multilateralism and promote common development. Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi, the meeting was attended by Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin and South African President Jacob Zuma. Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party and head of the People’s Liberation Army, who presided over the meeting, said, “We should unswervingly follow multilateralism.”
He also urged the five-member bloc to push for “political and peaceful settlement of regional conflicts and disputes,” the report said. The Xinhua report did not elaborate on what Xi meant by “regional conflicts and disputes”. Noting that the BRICS countries are all important G20 members, the Chinese president called on the bloc to support Germany as the host of the summit, and to send a signal that the G20 is committed to fostering partnership, building an open world economy, and boosting global economic growth.
The BRICS countries should uphold the spirit of partnership that features openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, strengthen unity and cooperation, safeguard common interests and seek interconnected development, he said. “Currently, the global economy is showing some positive signs, and the prospects for the development of BRICS countries are growing brighter in general, which is very inspiring,” said Xi.
The leaders pledged to work together for positive results at the BRICS summit in the southeastern Chinese seaside city of Xiamen later this year, the report said. China and India have been engaged in a stand-off in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for the past three weeks after a People’s Liberation Army construction party attempted to build a road. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
China is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up artificial islands and militarised many of them. Both the South China Sea and the East China Sea areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade. China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.
China also lays claim to tiny islands in the East China Sea between Japan and the Korean peninsula, and between Japan and Taiwan. The US today said it has flown two bombers over East Asian waters, as tensions continue to run high in the region. The B-1B Lancers took part in joint military drills with Japan in the East China Sea, the US Air Force said in a statement. They bombers then flew over the highly contentious South China Sea.
The US had also recently sent a navy warship near an artificial island in the South China Sea as part of the first “freedom of navigation” operation under President Donald Trump. China has previously termed the US’ move as “irresponsible” and warned that America’s deliberate provocations would have “extremely dangerous consequences” to regional stability.