Xi Jinping

Xi expected to rally BRICS at G20 summit

Beijing and Moscow aim to boost confidence of emerging economies that are showing signs of stalled growth as the West rebounds, experts say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 4:42am

President Xi Jinping is expected to help boost the flagging confidence of emerging market economies at this week's G20 summit in St Petersburg, where he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will present a united front on global security issues to counterbalance the United States, observers say.

Xi will pay state visits to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan starting today before attending the G20 summit on Thursday and Friday. He will also attend a summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, on his way home.

Xi will meet Putin on the sidelines of the G20 on his second official trip to Russia since being installed as president in March. He will hold unofficial meetings with leaders of other emerging markets, including Brazil, India and South Africa - which together with Russia and China are known as the BRICS.

Topping the agenda for Xi and Putin will likely be opposing the US-led military intervention in Syria, whose government is accused of using chemical weapons on its own civilians. The two leaders are expected to discuss the issue with other emerging nations, and at the meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, founded by China and also comprising Russia and four Central Asian nations, Moscow-based international affairs commentator Fyodor Lukyanov said.

China and Russia often act in unison on international security issues, and their military drill in July was their latest attempt to portray their relationship as strengthening. "Both China and Russia oppose military intervention in Syria," said Lukyanov. "The West tends to see the BRICS as an economically emerging power. But it is also a grouping of global political heavyweights."

The theme of this year's gathering of the world's leading 20 economies is economic growth and employment. But there is a pervading feeling that the BRICS' boom days are over.

Russia recently lowered its forecast for gross domestic product growth from 2.4 per cent to 1.8 per cent. India is contending with a plunging currency and surging energy prices, which are placing pressure on its current account deficit. Even China's economic figures are lower than expected.

"The summit is a good opportunity for Xi to explain how China is adjusting its economy to sustainable growth," said Li Xing , director of Russian studies at Beijing Normal University.

Tian Chunsheng , a Russian affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China and Russia were expected to co-operate in boosting confidence among the emerging market economies.

This is crucial for developing nations as they demand a bigger say in the global economic order and challenge the dominance of Western countries, whose economies are showing signs of recovery after five years of steep recession.

The European Union and the US in March launched talks on a transatlantic trade and investment partnership that would be one of largest trade deals in history if implemented.

The EU is growing increasingly concerned over its trade deficit, worsened by rising imports from BRICS nations. The EU-US deal would enable both sides to lay down trade rules easier than if they went through the World Trade Organisation, at which the BRICS can veto initiatives.

"The momentum for growth among developed nations is getting stronger," Tian said. "China and Russia may lead the BRICS to think of their own initiatives to boost growth."

Zhang Jianrong , a professor of Russian Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said China still enjoyed stronger growth momentum than other developing nations. He expected Beijing and Moscow to boost settlement of trade through local currencies. The BRICS would also seek to boost their internal demand, he added.

Other issues expected to be raised by Xi and Putin are negotiations on a deal that would see Russia supplying massive supplies of natural gas to China.

In Central Asia, Xi is expected to call for greater co-operation against terrorism that Beijing believes has spilled over to Xinjiang , which shares borders with eight nations, and to press the Central Asian nations to supply more oil and gas to China.