China on his mind? Xi Jinping missed major speech far from home at BRICS summit

FPI / August 30, 2023


Communist Party leader Xi Jinping was so preoccupied with internal conditions back home in China that he skipped out on a major speech last week at the BRICS summit in South Africa, observers surmised.

Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping arrives at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa on Aug. 22. / AP

With the faltering economy seen challenging his leader-for-life status, Xi left it to Commerce Minister Wang Wentao to deliver a major speech on Aug. 23 at the meeting of non-Western global powers Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Wang’s speech included indirect political attacks on the United States, reports say.

There was no official Communist Party explanation for Xi‘s absence.

“Beijing watchers say it is unusual for a Chinese leader to make such a departure from plans at a major world meeting.

Speculation over the reasons behind the absence range from health reasons to something that may have happened in China warranting his attention,” security correspondent Bill Gertz noted in a Washington Times report.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin did not answer questions from reporters about Xi’s missed speech.

The prepared speech by Xi repeated earlier claims that the world is facing a new era of “turbulence and transformation,” according to a text posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website.

“It is undergoing major shifts, division and regrouping, leading to more uncertain, unstable and unpredictable developments,” Xi said.

China analysts suspect that Xi may be facing internal opposition within the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over his economic policies that have sought to rein in domestic companies and impose new socialist controls over businesses.

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