Xi Jinping warns BRICS summit about protectionist risks

Xi Jinping said the economic outcome has improved and called on BRICS countries to oppose protectionism at a summit in China


On September 5, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the global economy has picked up with increased international trade and investment. However, he warned about risks growing at the same pace due to protectionism, in a speech at the BRICS summit hosted by China in Xiamen.

In front of the leaders of the group formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and other developing countries, the president of the world’s second-largest economy reinforced its strategy of positioning the country as the new leader of globalisation. Xi has stuck to this position since he made a stand in favour of an open world economy at the World Economic Forum in January, opposing US President Donald Trump.

“Recently, the world economy has taken a turn for the better. International trade and investment has picked up,” Xi said on September 5, according to Reuters. “At the same time, we must take note that risk and uncertainty in the world economy are also increasing.”

Without mentioning it directly, Xi took a swing at protectionist policies in the US

Without mentioning it directly, Xi also took a swing at protectionist policies in the US. “Some countries have become more inward-looking, and their desire to participate in global development cooperation has decreased,” he said, calling on the group and its partners to oppose protectionism.

Since Trump took office, the country has taken a tough position on international trade issues. Under the slogan ‘America First’, for example, the new administration triggered the renegotiation of NAFTA, in order to give the US more power in trade with Mexico and Canada,

In this context, China is working to strengthen its global leadership. Xi said at the summit he hosts that developed countries should improve their assistance to developing nations, and announced China will provide $500m for a South-South cooperation fund with this purpose.

Xi also indirectly addressed the US withdrawal from Paris climate agreement. “Multilateral trade negotiations make progress only with great difficulty, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement has met with resistance,” Xi said.

In parallel, Xi’s political strategy is oriented towards his re-election as party leader the coming National Congress of the Communist Party in China.