Chinese President Xi Jinping skipped a business forum in South Africa where he was scheduled to deliver a speech, sending Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao instead.
(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping skipped a business forum in South Africa where he was scheduled to deliver a speech, sending Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao instead.
The leaders of Brazil, India and South Africa on Tuesday all addressed the event, a prelude to a BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a pre-recorded video message — he missed the gathering of emerging-market powers to avoid an international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Xi changed his plans. He attended a lunch hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shortly before the forum.
The two leaders also met as part of Xi’s state visit on Tuesday morning, and Xi called on two countries to boost their combined influence on international affairs in the Global South.
Read More: Xi Urges South Africa to Work With China to Boost BRICS’ Clout
Beijing has been pushing for the expansion of BRICS, an attempt to extend the group’s clout on the world stage and challenge the US-led status quo. While South Africa and Russia back the addition of new members, India is wary of the group becoming a mouthpiece for China, and Brazil is worried about alienating the West.
The trip marks only Xi’s second international travel this year, with mounting domestic problems keeping him at home. Prior to his trip to South Africa, he has spent just two days abroad so far in 2023, when he visited Russia. That’s the least number of days in any first half of a year since he took power more than a decade ago, excluding the Covid-19 pandemic.
–With assistance from S’thembile Cele.
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