Rumors swirled after Xi Jinping failed to deliver a keynote address on BRICS Xi Jinping

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

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

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

Xi later attended the summit dinner, but no reason was given for not delivering the speech. It appeared to be a last-minute decision, state media articles and social media posts say From the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs The speaker was deployed as if he had handed it himself.

Some China observers have speculated whether something was “wrong” or whether Xi was temporarily ill, but an explanation is unlikely to be offered.

Bill Bishop, author of Sinocism, a popular newsletter on Chinese affairs, noted that there had already been a long period this month without any public appearances by Xi, which seemed “a little strange.”

“This last-minute decision to skip the business forum seems even more bizarre. In the absence of any useful information from the People’s Republic of China [People’s Republic of China] “The regime’s rumors will fly,” he said.

The Chinese Global South Project pointed out that this is the second unexplained absence of a Chinese official after former Foreign Minister Chen Gang – who has not appeared in public for months – was absent from the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting last month.

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to say [Xi’s absence] This is extraordinary, and it is indescribable because Chinese leaders never miss meticulously designed events like this.”

Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao reads Xi Jinping’s speech to leaders at the BRICS summit. Photograph: Jerome DeLay/AFP

The speech, delivered by Wang, included veiled attacks on the United States, describing an unnamed country as “obsessed with maintaining hegemony, [and] It has done its best to paralyze emerging markets and developing countries.

“Whoever develops first becomes the target of containment. Whoever catches up becomes the target of obstruction,” Wang said on behalf of Xi.

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

The summit was attended by representatives of dozens of other countries, as the main members are considering expanding its membership.

Some members such as China seek to build the BRICS as a counterweight to Western blocs such as the Group of Seven or Group of Twenty, although there is division within the group. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday that the group’s goal was not to compete with Western institutions. The Indian leadership, which has an often tense relationship with China, is also hesitant about empowering Beijing through BRICS.

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