Going ahead with his second international trip of 2023, after an official trip to Russia in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Monday for the 15th BRICS Summit to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Xinhua news agency reported.
BRICS derives its name from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, with the group representing 42% of the world’s population and 23% of the world’s gross domestic product. It sees itself as a counterweight to Western economic domination.
Russia’s top diplomat and heads of the remaining four emerging economies will gather in Johannesburg from Tuesday to Thursday this week under the theme “BRICS and Africa”, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said this month.
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While questions had swirled over whether Vladimir Putin would attend the upcoming conference, the Russian president is expected to join remotely as he continues to be the target of an ICC arrest warrant that Pretoria is in theory bound to enforce if he sets foot in the country.
A total of 69 countries, including all African states, have been invited to the summit. China’s Xi previously visited South Africa multiple years back in 2018 as he tried to improve his country’s diplomatic and economic relations with the resource-rich continent.
The bloc had previously indicated it’s open to a possible future expansion of BRICS membership, which could be on the agenda of this year’s summit. A number of countries in Africa have already expressed a desire to join the group, including Ethiopia, Algeria and Egypt.