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Xiamen diary: New event, old friends

Xiamen diary: New event, old friends

After entering an ante-chamber following a photo-op with China’s President Xi Jinping, Modi enveloped Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his trademark hug.

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BRICS leaders pose for a group photo at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen. (Source: AP)

The Bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was evident on the eve of their bilateral meet on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in China’s Xiamen. After entering an ante-chamber following a photo-op with China’s President Xi Jinping, Modi enveloped Sisi in his trademark hug. The two leaders were also seated next to each other at the BRICS welcoming banquet, held minutes after the photo op, where they were again seen engaged in lively discussion.

Of a time long gone

Chinese President Xi Jinping recalled his first major political post in Xiamen as the city’s deputy mayor in 1985. In his toast at the BRICS welcoming banquet, Xi said, “In 1985, 33 years ago, I came to Xiamen to take up a new post…that day was also my 32nd birthday.” He recalled a different Xiamen then: one without high-rises, poorly lit streets and few international businessmen or tourists. “The breeze and ripples of the sea are as soothing as ever, but now dotted with skyscrapers and well-illuminated streets, lush greenery and blue sky. The development of Xiamen epitomises China’s journey of reform and opening up,” he said.

All President Xi’s men

The Chinese government’s propaganda work was visible during the summit. The stalls at the venue sold books by President Xi Jinping in English, Russian and Chinese, while literature about the booming Chinese economy was also on display, along with picture postcards of Fujian province and Xiamen. And then there were Chinese TV reporters are asking all delegates at the media centre: do you think Xi is a popular leader?

Acronym and more

China-based UK journalist Helen Bentley recently made a video to present her alternative interpretation of the first 10 years of the BRICS economic group in the run-up to the summit. And that has become a major hit. While the acronym BRICS consists of the first letters of its member-countries, in the video, Bentley concluded that “B” is for Brazil but also for Banking; “R” stands for Russia but also Railways; “I” for India as well as Integrated market; “C” for China and also Culture; and “S” represents South Africa and also South-South cooperation.
Shubhajit Roy & Apurva

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