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    Open economies role seen for BRICS

    State Councilor Yang Jiechi (eighth from left) and representatives of BRICS countries pose on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the year's first BRICS Sherpa meeting in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. LI XIANG/XINHUA

    BRICS countries should make joint efforts to maintain the openness of global economies and oppose trade protectionism amid worldwide economic sluggishness, China's top diplomat said on Thursday.

    This year's BRICS summit, which will be attended by leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will be held from Sept 3 to 5 in coastal Xiamen, Fujian Province, State Councilor Yang Jiechi announced at the opening ceremony of this year's first BRICS Sherpa meeting, held in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

    Sherpas are senior diplomats and officials in charge of coordinating affairs ahead of the BRICS summit.

    With the past decade's cooperation, BRICS has become an important force to boost economic growth and improve global governance, Yang said, adding that there remains great potential for cooperation between the BRICS countries.

    "The advantages of complementary resources of the five countries are yet to be developed," he said.

    Yang proposed that the five nations work together to raise the voices of developing countries and emerging economies in global affairs.

    Yang cited an International Monetary Fund report that said emerging markets and developing countries contributed about 80 percent to global economic growth last year.

    More than 100 representatives, including diplomats and bankers, attended the Sherpa meeting, which will end on Friday. The theme of the Sherpa meeting was to deepen BRICS partnership and create a brighter future.

    China holds the BRICS presidency this year. In a letter to the leaders of BRICS countries on Jan 1, President Xi Jinping predicted that they will continue to make progress on cooperation and play a bigger role in international affairs in the next decade.

    "In accordance with an open, inclusive and win-win BRICS spirit, China will work with other BRICS countries to make the Xiamen summit a success and move BRICS cooperation to a new level," Xi said in the letter.

    Anil Sooklal, director-general for Asia and the Middle East for South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said China has chosen a very appropriate theme-strengthening BRICS partnership for a brighter future-for this year's meeting.

    This year is one of the most difficult that the world has experienced as a global community, said Sooklal, who is South Africa's Sherpa at the meeting. He cited uncertainties brought by the new US presidential administration and problems in the European Union.

    "This provides a major vacuum on the global stage, and BRICS is the only coherent forum-the five countries are a powerful force for good in the world," he said, adding that BRICS is well placed to show global economic leadership.

    Sergey A. Ryabkov, Russian deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, said, "It's perfectly fine that China tries to present BRICS as an association with global reach."

    "BRICS is not against anyone. We have an open mind," he added.