Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on fellow BRICS nations to unite in the battle against growing trade protectionism across the world and play a "more active role in world governance” in a summit overshadowed by renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Xi told the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa gathered for their annual summit in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen on September 4-5 that they should "speak with one voice" to jointly present their solutions to global problems and safeguard their common interests.
"We need to make the international order more just and equitable," the Chinese president also said.
"Without us, ... many challenges cannot be effectively resolved," he told Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and South African President Jacob Zuma.
Xi said BRICS countries should also increase cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, monetary systems and finance, as well as sustainable development.
Addressing the summit, Putin proposed expanding BRICS cooperation in space exploration, healthcare, and information security, according to the Interfax news agency.
The Russian president also called on members of the grouping to "enhance energy dialogue" by creating "a platform of BRICS energy research that could allow stepping up sectorial information and analytical and scientific exchanges," TASS reported.
The Xiamen gathering is the ninth summit of the BRICS emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
China also invited Tajikistan, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, and Thailand -- the so-called "BRICS Plus" format -- to the gathering.
The five BRICS member states represent more than 40 percent of the world’s population and generate about 22.5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
'Not A Talking Shop'
The grouping was formed to promote the interests of the participating countries against the backdrop of a global economic system dominated by the West.
But some critics are skeptical about the effectiveness of the grouping, given that its member states represent a wide variety of cultures, government styles, and economic systems.
In a speech to BRICS business leaders on September 3, Xi said "BRICS country cooperation is not a talking shop but a task force that gets things done."
"Our goal is to build a big market of trade and investment, promote smooth flow of currency and finance, improve connectivity of infrastructure, and build close bonds between the peoples," he added.
Also on September 3, Xi met with Putin and discussed the heightening tensions over North Korea's latest nuclear test -- Pyongyang’s sixth and most-powerful blast.
The official Xinhua News Agency said both leaders strongly condemned Pyongyang’s action and agreed "to adhere to the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, have close communication and coordination, and properly respond" to the test.
Some observers said the timing of the test -- prior to Xi’s hosting of a major summit -- likely angered the Chinese leader.
Beijing is North Korea’s main ally and economic backer.
Xinhua also said the Chinese and Russian leaders agreed to enhance military cooperation between the two countries.
Putin also met on the sidelines of the summit with India's Modi to discuss bilateral relations, Interfax reported on September 4.
The Russian president was quoted as saying that the two countries are "actively developing military-technical cooperation."
He also expressed satisfaction about the trade growth between the two countries, which he said reached nearly 22 percent in the first half of the year.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, TASS, and Interfax