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G-20 must take action and not be a 'talk shop': Xi Jinping

He says the group must fully play its role to keep the world economy on a track of prosperity and stability

PM Lee with President Xi at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China on Sunday. Singapore is one of eight non-G-20 nations invited by Mr Xi to participate in the summit.

Hangzhou, China

COUNTRIES that make up the Group of Twenty (G-20) need to be part of a team that takes action, and not one that is nothing more than a "talk shop" group, said Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day G-20 Leaders' Summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, he underscored the importance of having all the members "fully honour" their commitments.

In his remarks delivered in Mandarin, Mr Xi said the G-20 has formulated different action plans for many areas such as sustainable development, green finance, energy efficiency and combating corruption.

"Each and every plan should be implemented," he told his audience that included US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was also present at the Hangzhou International Conference Centre. Singapore is one of eight non-G-20 nations invited by Mr Xi to participate in the summit.

The G-20 comprises 19 of the world's largest economies and the European Union. Collectively, they represent 85 per cent of global gross domestic product and two-thirds of the world's population.

China is hosting this high-level summit for the first time. This is the second summit being held in an Asian country, six years after South Korea did the honours in 2010.

Stressing that the G-20 carries "high expectations" from the international community, Mr Xi said the group must fully play its role to keep the world economy on a track of prosperity and stability.

"The G-20 must keep up with the changing times and lead the way forward. It must adapt itself to the needs of the global economy and further transform itself from a mechanism of crisis response to one of long-term governance," he said.

The global economy is now "at a crucial juncture" after being pegged back by sluggish demand, volatility in the financial markets and weaker trade and investment.

"Growth drivers from the previous round of technological progress are gradually fading, while a new round of technological and industrial revolution has yet to gain momentum," he said.

"I hope the Hangzhou Summit can provide solutions that address the symptoms and root causes of global economic problems," he said.

Mr Xi warned that the world is being threatened by rising protectionism and that the risks of high leverage are accumulating.

He urged countries to take greater steps to boost trade and investment and to make good on their promises to not introduce new protectionist policies.

Singapore Business Federation chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit, who is in Hangzhou to attend the Business 20 summit, expressed some concern that countries are not moving fast enough to reverse their protectionist measures.

He told The Business Times: "The data that we're seeing shows that there are more protectionist measures being put forward. We, the business community, have made our exhortations and recommendations (to the G-20 leaders), and we do hope it can be seriously followed up."

At the end of the first day of the summit, Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted the other leaders and their spouses to dinner. They later went on an evening tour of Hangzhou's picturesque West Lake and took in a special performance put together by Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

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