Chinese President Xi Jinping called on fellow BRICS nations to unite in the battle against growing trade protectionism across the world in a summit overshadowed by renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
"BRICS country cooperation is not a talking shop, but a task force that gets things done," Xi said on September 3 before the official opening of the event on September 4 in the southeastern city of Xiamen.
But more eyes were likely on a meeting of Xi with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Xi and Putin discussed the heightening tensions over North Korea's latest nuclear test, Pyongyang’s sixth and most-powerful blast.
Xinhua said Xi and Putin both strongly condemned Pyongyang’s action and said they agreed "to adhere to the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, have close communication and coordination, and properly respond" to the test.
Some observers said the timing of the test -- prior to Xi’s hosting of a major summit -- likely angered the Chinese leader. China is North Korea’s main ally and economic backer.
Xinhua also said the Chinese and Russian leaders agreed to enhance military cooperation between the two countries.
The Xiamen gathering is the ninth summit of the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The countries represent more than 40 percent of the world’s population and generate about 22.5 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).
The grouping was formed to promote the interests of the participating countries on the backdrop of a global economic system dominated by the West.
China also invited Tajikistan, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, and Thailand -- the so-called "BRICS Plus" format -- to the gathering.
Some critics are skeptical about the effectiveness of the grouping of countries, given that they represent a wide variety of cultures, government styles, and economic systems.
After the September 3 welcoming speeches, the summit is expected to focus on economic issues on September 4-5.
With reporting by AP and AFP