China’s Xi to attend BRICS leaders’ meeting, visit South Africa

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s President Xi Jinping will attend the BRICS leaders’ meeting and visit South Africa on Aug. 21-24, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Leaders from the five BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa meet in Johannesburg next week from Aug. 22 to discuss how to turn a loose club of nations accounting for a quarter of the global economy into a geopolitical force that can challenge the West’s dominance in world affairs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces an international arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will dial in by video call instead of attending in person.

Expansion is expected to be high on the agenda, as some 40 nations have shown interest in joining, either formally or informally, according to South Africa. They include Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Egypt.

China, seeking to expand its geopolitical influence as it tussles with the United States, has said it “welcomes more like-minded partners to join the ‘BRICS family’ at an early date.”

Russia also supports expansion, while Brazil resists it, fearing the already unwieldy club could see its stature diluted by it. India is on the fence.

Besides attending the BRICS meeting, Xi will also co-chair the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Christian Schmollinger)