Xiamen (China): Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday asked BRICS members to shelve their differences and accommodate each other’s concerns by enhancing mutual trust and strategic communication, as he opened the 9th annual summit of the five member emerging economies.

The opening ceremony of the three-day BRICS summit started with Brics Business Council amid a downpour triggered by typhoon Mawar which had caused widespread disruption to the summit preparations and the city’s traffic. The typhoon also caused considerable disruption to the flights.

BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—is a grouping of the five emerging economies. The BRICS summit brings together the leaders of these countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, South African President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the summit.

In his speech broadly focusing on enhancing cooperation between the BRICS members, Xi said, “construction of a tall building starts with foundation. We have laid the foundation and put in place the framework for BRICS cooperation."

Outlining BRICS cooperation in the last 10 years, he said treating each other as equals and seeking common ground while shelving differences is important part of cooperation. “In terms of BRICS cooperation, decisions are made through consultation (and) not by one country. We respect each other’s model of development, accommodate each other’s concern and work to enhance strategic communication and mutual trust," he told about 1,000 delegates from different countries.

“Given difference in national conditions, history and cultures, it is only natural we may have some differences in pursuing our cooperation," he said. “However, with strong faith in cooperation and enhancing collaboration, the BRICS countries can achieve steady progress in our cooperation," he added.

The summit comes days after India and China last week ended a 73-day standoff in Doklam by withdrawing troops from the area. The two sides were locked in a face-off after Indian troops stopped the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from building a road in the area.

In a candid speech without directly referring to differences, Xi referred to his multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a crucial component. India had protested to CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India also boycotted the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) hosted by China in May.

Xi said BRI is not a tool to advance any geopolitical agenda, but a platform for practical cooperation. It is not a foreign aid scheme, but an initiative for interconnected development which calls for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, he said.

“I am convinced that the BRI will serve as a new platform for all countries to achieve win-win cooperation and that it will create new opportunities for implementing the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’," he said. He also said Brics should promote the “BRICS Plus" approach to build an open and diversified network of development partners.

China has invited Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as guest countries for the Xiamen Brics summit as special guests like India invited Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic) leaders for the 2016 BRICS summit at Goa. “

We should get more emerging market and developing countries involved in our concerted endeavours for cooperation and mutual benefits," Xi said.

Xi said that as a cooperation platform with global influence, BRICS cooperation is more than about five countries. “Brics places high premium on cooperation with other emerging market and developing countries and have established effective dialogue mechanisms with them," Xi said.

Xi also said that Brics cooperation has reached a crucial stage of development. In assessing the performance of Brics cooperation, it is important to bear two things in mind—the historical course of global development and evolving international landscape; the historical process of development of BRICS countries, both individually and collectively, he said.

Xi said the development of the BRICS countries has delivered tangible benefits to more than three billion people. He also said that in the past decade, combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the bloc has grown 179%, trade increased 94% while urban population expanded 28%, contributing significantly to stabilising the global economy and returning it to growth.

XI also said the BRICS countries have been committed to multilateralism, fairness and justice in the past decade. BRICS countries have endeavoured to fulfil their international responsibility, and have staked out their positions on major regional and international issues and made proposals for addressing them during the past decade, Xi said. The countries have promoted reform of economic governance to increase the representation and say of emerging market and developing countries, according to the president.

The bloc has also taken the lead in implementing the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ and ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, and engaged in close dialogue and cooperation with other developing countries to pursue development through unity, the Chinese president said.

He said the BRICS countries should work to usher in second golden decade. Going forward BRICS countries have major tasks to accomplish, which are to grow economies and to strengthen cooperation, he said.

“It is time to set sail when the tide rises," Xi said, adding that countries should work to let their economic cooperation have more substance. “Economic cooperation is the foundation of the BRICS mechanism," Xi said, referring to the progress in the operation of the New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement and in e-commerce, trade and investment facilitation, trade in services, local currency bond issuance, scientific and technological innovation, industrial cooperation and public-private partnership.

He also said BRICS countries should implement agreements and consensus already reached while actively exploring new ways and areas of practical cooperation.

On terrorism, Xi called on BRICS countries to adopt a holistic approach to fight terrorism in all its forms and ensure that terrorists have no place to hide. He also asked the member countries to take a constructive part in the process of resolving geopolitical hotspot issues and make due contributions.

“I am convinced that as long as we take a holistic approach to fighting terrorism in all its forms, and address both its symptoms and root causes, terrorists will have no place to hide," he said.

His remarks came days after US President Donald Trump hit out at China’s close ally Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos" that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose" by harbouring terrorists.

India is expected to raise its concerns over terrorism strongly at the BRICS Summit, hosted by China, which had said New Delhi’s concerns over Pakistan’s counter-terror record is not an “appropriate topic" to be discussed at the forum.

The Chinese president also called for the world to reject protectionism even as American and European pressure mounts on Beijing to lower market barriers.

Lamenting that “protectionism and an inward-looking mentality are on the rise," Xi said that “only openness delivers progress and only inclusiveness sustains such progress."

Associated Press contributed to the story.