Rumors swirl after Xi Jinping fails to deliver key BRICS speech | Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping unexpectedly skipped a scheduled speech at a key multilateral business forum in South Africa on Tuesday.

G arrived in Johannesburg for the BRICS summit on Monday evening, his second international trip this year after visiting Moscow in March. He was met by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the airport.

According to the summit schedule, Xi was expected to attend the forum and deliver remarks with other leaders on Tuesday. But instead his speech was read by his Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao.

Xi later attended the summit dinner, but no reason was given for missing the speech. It appeared to be a last-minute decision, according to state media articles and social media posts From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China It was published as if the spokesperson had delivered it himself.

Some Chinese observers speculated that something was „wrong” or that Xi was temporarily ill, but an explanation was unlikely.

Phil Bishop, editor of Sinoism, a popular newsletter on Chinese affairs, noted that there had already been a long period without any public appearances by Xi this month, which seemed „a little strange.”

“This last-minute decision to skip the business forum seems even more strange. So in the absence of any useful information from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] Organization rumors will fly,” he said.

The China Global South Project noted that former foreign minister Qin Gang, who has not been seen in public for months — has gone unexplained by a Chinese official since he missed last month’s BRICS meeting of foreign ministers.

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„To say [Xi’s absence] „This is an understatement because Chinese leaders never miss such high-profile dance performances,” it said.

China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao reads Xi Jinping’s speech to leaders at the BRICS summit. Photo: Jerome Delay/AP

Wang’s speech was a thinly veiled attack on the United States, an unnamed country „obsessed with maintaining hegemony, [and] has gone out of its way to cripple emerging markets and developing countries”.

„Whoever develops first becomes the target of restriction. Whoever catches up becomes the target of restriction,” Wang said on behalf of Xi.

The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – represent about 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP. All member state leaders attended in person except Vladimir Putin, who is currently facing an arrest warrant for war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court.

The summit was attended by representatives from dozens of other countries as key members consider expanding its membership.

Despite divisions within the group, some members, such as China, seek to create BRICS as a counterweight to Western gatherings such as the G7 or G20. On Tuesday, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the group’s aim was not to compete with Western companies. India’s leadership, which has often had a fractious relationship with China, is also reluctant to empower Beijing through BRICS.

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