BRICS On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping abruptly skipped a BRICS business summit in South Africa and sent his commerce minister in his place to make a heated address against US hegemony.
Along with the leaders of India, Brazil, and South Africa, Xi was due to give an address at the BRICS economic forum on Tuesday after arriving in Johannesburg on Monday for the annual gathering of the major rising economies.
But Beijing made no formal notification or justification for the Chinese president’s absence from the ceremony.
Xi warned against “sleepwalking into the abyss of a new cold war” in the statement.
Without naming the US specifically, the statement said that “some country, obsessed with maintaining its hegemony, has gone out of its way to cripple the emerging markets, and developing countries.”
The only other BRICS president who skipped the forum was Xi. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin offered statements online because he was unable to attend the meeting in person due to an international arrest warrant for his barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
Following his absence from the meeting, Xi joined the presidents of Brazil, India, and Russia at a dinner given by Ramaphosa.
Long-term observers of Chinese foreign policy were puzzled by Xi’s unexpected absence from the forum, which was reported by journalists present.
“It’s very surprising for a Chinese chief to appear in a nation facilitating a multilateral gathering – particularly one that China is profoundly put resources into, as BRICS – and neglect to appear at the initial occasion,” said Bonnie Glaser, overseeing overseer of the Indo-Pacific program at the German Marshall Asset.
The shortfall of Xi is “exceptionally surprising,” as indicated by Brian Hart, an individual with the China Power Undertaking at the Middle for Vital and Worldwide Investigations, who additionally noticed that Chinese chiefs scarcely at any point veer off from convention at high-profile occasions like this.
“Apparently Xi was hauled out from the gathering by something. He answered that it could have been a clinical issue or a difficult circumstance that required his consideration. It’s likewise conceivable that Xi skirted the event for another explanation, like because of advancements at the culmination.”
Xinhua, the official state news agency, did not mention Xi’s absence from the event or the fact that Wang, the commerce minister, gave Xi’s speech.
Hours after the event, Hua Chunying, a representative for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tweeted, “Xi delivered an address at the closing ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum 2023,” accompanied with a picture of the jam-packed conference room.
Wang Wenbin, another ministry official, dodged a question on Xi’s absence from the BRICS business forum during a routine news briefing on Wednesday. Wang instead delivered a synopsis of Xi’s prepared address, which was heavily covered by official media.
Wang responded: “I’ve previously responded to the question when another reporter inquired about Xi. This gathering of the leaders of the BRICS will be productive, we are certain of that.
Experts predict that Beijing won’t ever provide an explanation for why Xi skipped the meeting.
“The (Chinese Communist Party) feels under no duty to give an explanation for why its foreign minister was fired or its senior leader skipped the BRICS Business Forum. The German Marshall Fund’s Glaser stated that anything may be a state secret.
China swiftly fired Qin Gang as its foreign minister last month after he had been absent from the public eye for weeks. The extraordinary action, which saw Qin abruptly replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi, was not explained. Since then, no one has heard from Qin in public.
According to Hart at the CSIS, that upheaval actually had an effect on the ongoing BRICS summit. This summer, Qin would have gone to the BRICS meetings in preparation, but his deputy was sent in his place during his abduction.
“The absence of transparency in Beijing is hardly shocking. The flow of information is closely controlled by Chinese officials when it comes to personnel concerns or sensitive topics, according to Hart.
Beijing can be a mystery, as anomalies like Xi’s departure serve as yet another reminder.