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President Xi Jinping

Xi to Represent China at BRICS Summit in South Africa; State Visit to Follow

China’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that President Xi Jinping will attend next week’s summit of the BRICS nations in Johannesburg, to be followed by a state visit to South Africa.

Spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, revealed that during his visit from August 21 to 24 in South Africa, President Xi will join hands with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to co-chair the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue.

BRICS, of which China is a central member, encompasses Brazil, Russia, and India. Initially formed based on shared interests of prominent emerging economies, it has since aimed to branch out into various civil and governmental sectors.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be absent from the summit, as South African authorities have reported an arrest warrant for him from the International Criminal Court.

While the BRICS summit marks the first in-person gathering since 2019, all eyes are on the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This absence could be seen as a significant setback for Putin, as he is likely the only BRICS nation leader not present. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, indicated that Putin would partake via video link but did not clarify if there were initial plans for in-person attendance.

This year’s summit unfolds against a backdrop of challenges, from Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and South Africa’s tumbling economy to intensifying rivalry between China and India. The bloc’s pursuit of renewed significance is evident.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is an advocate for expanding the BRICS membership. He has expressed his intention to bring up the topic of including more nations during the summit. Following Lula’s sentiments, Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira confirmed that roughly 20 nations, including Argentina, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, and Venezuela, have shown interest in joining the bloc. Since his tenure began, Lula has consistently challenged the prevailing Western-dominated global order.

In the face of mounting pressure and isolation from the U.S. and the European Union, China and Russia are intensifying their economic outreach to emerging nations. A testament to this is Beijing’s support for the New Development Bank, known as the BRICS bank, which finances infrastructure projects in Brazil and other developing regions.

When questioned about China’s aspirations for the BRICS summit during a daily press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin highlighted BRICS’ growing global influence but did not touch upon the topic of its expansion. Wang expressed China’s enthusiasm in collaborating with South Africa, emphasizing their joint goals for “development, revitalization, and fostering a multipolar world with increased international relations democracy.” He added that the summit would serve as a platform for member nations to deeply discuss global challenges, strengthen their coordination on international matters, and introduce stability and positivity into the current global scenario.