Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg next week, following which he will pay a state visit to South Africa, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying also said in a statement that during his visit to South Africa on August 21-24, Xi will co-chair the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.

China is a core member of the BRICS countries, which also include Brazil, Russia and India.

The group was based on uniting the interests of the world’s leading emerging economies, but has sought to expand into other civil and government sectors.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided not to attend the summit because of an arrest warrant issued for him by the International Criminal Court, according to South African officials.

The development could be considered embarrassing for Putin, who is expected to be the only leader of the country not to be included in the group. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had decided to attend the summit via video link, without confirming whether he intended to attend in person.

The BRICS summit is the first to be held in person since 2019 and is taking place at a time when the bloc is grappling with Russia’s war in Ukraine, South Africa’s crumbling economy and growing competition between Asian giants China and India. Seeking new relevance.

Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva has said he supports the inclusion of more countries in the grouping and intends to raise the issue at the summit.

About 20 countries have formally applied to join, said Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira following comments by Lula, who has repeatedly opposed the current Western-dominated international structure since taking office. Have done Vieira said hopefuls include Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran and Venezuela.

Faced with isolation by the US and the European Union, China and Russia have sought to expand their economic influence in developing countries. Beijing has done this partly through the Chinese-backed New Development Bank, commonly known as the BRICS bank, which is funding infrastructure projects in Brazil and elsewhere in the developing world.

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