China's Xi to host virtual summit for Brics emerging economies

Chinese President Xi Jinping will host a virtual summit with top leaders from Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa next week, marking the first such meeting since the Ukraine crisis unfolded.

The influential club of Brics emerging economies formed in 2009 is home to more than 40 per cent of the global population and accounts for nearly a quarter of the world's gross domestic product.

Three of its members - China, India and South Africa - have abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

China and India have strong military links with Russia and purchase significant amounts of its oil and gas.

Xi in a call on Wednesday (Jun 15) assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that China will support Moscow's core interests in "sovereignty and security" - leading Washington to warn Beijing it risked ending up "on the wrong side of history".

South Africa, one of the few African countries wielding diplomatic influence outside the continent, has also refused to condemn the Russian military action, to safeguard important economic ties.

Xi will chair the virtual Brics summit on Jun 23, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, citing Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

This year's theme focuses on "fostering high-quality Brics partnerships (and) ushering in a new era for global development", Hua said.

China said at a Brics foreign ministers meeting in May that it wants other emerging economies to join the grouping, though it is unclear whether new members have been invited.

"China proposes to start the Brics expansion process, explore the criteria and procedures for the expansion, and gradually form a consensus," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. AFP

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