Chinese Leader Fails to Show Up at Key BRICS Event

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
August 23, 2023China News

Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping unexpectedly missed a scheduled speech at a BRICS summit in South Africa on Aug. 22, raising eyebrows as such absences by top Chinese officials from high-profile events are “unusual.”

Mr. Xi arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Aug. 21 and was scheduled to speak at a business forum the following day. Instead, his speech was read out by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

In his speech, Mr. Xi made a veiled criticism of the United States by claiming that “some country, obsessed with maintaining its hegemony, has gone out of its way to cripple the emerging markets and developing countries.”

“Whoever is developing fast becomes its target of containment; whoever is catching up becomes its target of obstruction,” Mr. Wang said while reading the Chinese leader’s speech at the summit.

Neither Mr. Wang nor Beijing provided an explanation as to why Mr. Xi was absent from the forum. China is a core member of the BRICS, which also includes Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin could not attend the summit in person due to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) arrest warrant for his alleged war crimes in Ukraine, he managed to join virtually.

The China Global South Project (CGSP) said that Mr. Xi’s absence from the forum on Aug. 22 was “very unusual,” and this marked the second instance of a Chinese official skipping an event after former Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s absence from last month’s foreign ministers BRICS meeting.

“To say this is extraordinary is an understatement, as Chinese leaders never miss highly choreographed events like this,” the CGSP stated on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“This is the second mysterious Chinese absence from a BRICS event this year. Before he was replaced, Qin Gang also inexplicably failed to appear at last month’s foreign ministers meeting in Cape Town,” it added.

Mr. Qin was removed from his post on July 25, just seven months after taking the job and a month after disappearing from the public eye. The last time he was seen in state media was on June 25, when he welcomed diplomats from Russia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

NTD Photo
China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang attends a press conference at the Media Center in Beijing on March 7, 2023. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)

The reason behind Mr. Qin’s absence remains unclear. Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had previously attributed it to “health reasons.”

The CGSP also noted that Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, added to the confusion about Mr. Xi’s absence when she claimed that the CCP leader “delivered an address at the closing ceremony” of the summit.

On Aug. 23, Mr. Xi met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and discussed developing China-South Africa relations. The Chinese foreign ministry said the two leaders “reached important common understandings.”

The meeting was part of his three-day state visit to South Africa, which is Mr. Xi’s second foreign trip this year. Mr. Xi told the South African leader that “China is ready to step up exchanges between political parties and cooperation on training,” according to the ministry.

The BRICS business summit is the first to be held in person since 2021. It comes as the bloc seeks new relevance in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine, South Africa’s crashing economy, and sharpening competition between Asian giants China and India.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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