Chinese ambassador says Summit in SA will inject new energy into BRICS cooperation

Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, addressed a media briefing on the forthcoming BRICS summit and the State visit by President Xi Jinping next week. Picture: Supplied

Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, addressed a media briefing on the forthcoming BRICS summit and the State visit by President Xi Jinping next week. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 18, 2023


Chinese President Xi Jingping’s reunion with fellow BRICS heads of State and delegations in Johannesburg will reinvigorate energy in the bloc of emerging economies, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, the Ambassador of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, said the 15th BRICS summit to be held in South Africa next week carries special significance.

"This will be the first physical BRICS summit after three years and also the third time that BRICS countries get together in Africa after five years. That carries special significance," Chen told local and international media at the embassy in Arcadia, Pretoria.

"The Chinese side is confident that President Xi’s reunion with the BRICS leaders in South Africa will produce important results and inject new energy into BRICS cooperation."

Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a previous BRICS summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Gauteng. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

In March 2013, when Xi made his first trip abroad to attend an international multilateral conference as president, he was visiting South Africa for the BRICS Durban Summit.

“Since then, President Xi Jinping has presided over or attended BRICS Summits for 10 years in a row. He put forward Chinese initiatives and contributed Chinese wisdom to deepening BRICS solidarity,” said Chen.

Ambassador of China in South Africa Chen Xiaodong with Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa; and ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria. Picture: Supplied

During the summit next week, the Chinese diplomat said his president will work with other BRICS leaders to actively explore projects that meet the development needs of the five countries and the common interests of their people.

"BRICS leaders will exchange ideas on proposals regarding further cooperation in energy, economy and trade, agriculture, and other fields. They will explore building BRICS cooperation mechanisms for young people and persons with disabilities, so as to take BRICS cooperation to a higher level," said Chen.

During China’s chairship of BRICS, at the Xiamen summit, a proposal was put forward for the concept of expanding the bloc through BRICS Plus cooperation.

"That ushered BRICS cooperation onto a new stage. As the world faces rising exclusiveness and protectionism, President Xi Jinping pointed out that BRICS is not an exclusive club or small circle but a big family of good partners that is based on mutual assistance for win-win cooperation.

Last year, BRICS leaders reached a crucial consensus on BRICS expansion. The leaders supported discussions on the criteria and procedures for expansion," said Chen.

"So far, the international community voted in strong favour of BRICS cooperation. A total of 23 countries have formally applied to join the BRICS mechanism.

"BRICS expansion has become the top trending issue at the moment. Expansion is key to enhancing BRICS mechanism’s vitality. I believe that this year’s Summit will witness new and more solid steps on this front," he said.

The BRICS bloc is in the limelight ahead of the 15th summit to be hosted at Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, from Tuesday to Thursday next week under the theme "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism".

Chen, a seasoned diplomat and former assistant foreign minister of China, arrived in Pretoria in 2020 to take the reins at the embassy as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa.

After the briefing on Friday, the Chinese ambassador was joined by the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa, and ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula at a seminar on China-South Africa relations.

On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will host Chinese President Xi Jinping on a State visit at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Regarding Xi’s State Visit next week, Chen said the visit is of great significance to the development of Pretoria and Beijing ties.

President Cyril Ramaphosa with President of China Xi Jinping at the Union Buildings during his State visit in 2018. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

"On the political front, the two countries have strong mutual respect and trust. We firmly support each other on issues of our respective core interests and major concerns. We closely communicate and coordinate with each other in international affairs," he said.

"On the economic and trade front, cooperation between our two countries benefits both sides. China has been South Africa's largest trading partner for 14 years in a row, and South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 years straight."

During the State Visit, Chen said Xi and Ramaphosa will have wide-ranging and in-depth exchanges of views on China-South Africa relations, China-Africa relations, BRICS cooperation, and international and regional issues of common concern.

"The two heads of State will review our two countries’ traditional friendship and usher in a new chapter of cooperation that promises an even better future," he said.

The two presidents will also witness the signing of important bilateral cooperation documents and hold a press briefing.