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China's Xi To Welcome Putin, Other BRICS Leaders For Summit

BRICS leaders at the 2016 summit in Goa, India.
BRICS leaders at the 2016 summit in Goa, India.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are preparing to hold their annual summit, with a border dispute between China and India likely to create a tense atmosphere.

Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries will meet in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen on September 3-5.

It will be the ninth meeting of the group of emerging economies -- representing more than 40 percent of the world’s population. The BRICS generate about 22.5 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

The grouping was formed to promote the economic interests of the participating countries on the backdrop of a global financial system dominated by Western countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will open the conference and welcome the other leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China has also invited Tajikistan, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, and Thailand -- the so-called "BRICS Plus" format.

The BRICS bring together a wide variety of cultures, government styles, and economic systems.

"It's really tough to see how BRICS is any type of coherent anything. What do they have in common?" Christopher Balding, a Peking University economics professor, told the AFP news agency.

"Economically, trade-wise, financially, they all do things very differently. It's difficult to see any room for overlap."

Prior to the gathering, a new development bank established by Russia, China, India, and Brazil announced it was providing three of those countries with $1.4 billion in loans.

The loans were announced by the New Development Bank, which was set up in Shanghai to be an alternative to the Washington-based World Bank.

Of the total, $460 million will go toward updating the computer system of the Russian judicial system, $470 million toward developing rural water supplies in India, and the rest toward energy conservation and flood control in China.

However, geopolitical concerns could raise tensions at the summit.

A recent spat between China and India over the disputed Himalayan border region nearly developed into a full-scale crisis.

Both sides backed off ahead of the summit, but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country hoped India will "learn lessons from this incident and prevent similar things from happening again."

Xi and Putin are expected to hold bilateral meetings late on September 3. Issues discussed are likely to include concerns over North Korea and its dispute with world powers over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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