Rumours swirl after Xi Jinping fails to give key Brics speech

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, unexpectedly skipped a scheduled speech at a key multilateral business forum in South Africa on Tuesday.

Xi arrived in Johannesburg for the Brics summit on Monday evening on what is only his second international trip this year, after visiting Moscow in March. He was met on the airport tarmac by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to the summit schedule, Xi was expected to attend the forum and deliver remarks alongside other leaders on Tuesday. But instead his speech was read out by his commerce minister, 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, as state media articles and social media posts from China’s foreign ministry spokesperson were published as though he had delivered it himself.

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BRICS, China, South Africa