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BEIJING: President Xi Jinping has arrived in South Africa, Chinese state media reported Tuesday, where he will attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

The state visit will be Xi’s second of 2023, after making an official trip to Russia in March.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Johannesburg on Monday to attend the 15th BRICS Summit to be held here, and pay a state visit to South Africa,” Xinhua news agency said, adding he had been “warmly welcomed” by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“Xi said that he is very glad to visit South Africa again and looks forward to having in-depth exchanges of views with Ramaphosa on deepening China-South Africa relations and issues of common interest,” Xinhua said.

The heads of Brazil, China, India and South Africa plus Russia’s top diplomat will gather from Tuesday to Thursday this week under the theme “BRICS and Africa”, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said this month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin – who is sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in the Ukraine war – will not attend this year’s BRICS conference in South Africa, which is a signatory of the ICC.

The Chinese leader previously visited South Africa in 2018 as he sought to enhance his country’s diplomatic and economic ties with the continent.

On the agenda at this year’s summit will be the possible future expansion of BRICS membership, which the bloc has previously indicated it is open to.

Several African countries have previously expressed a desire to join the bloc, including Algeria, Egypt and Ethiopia.

A total of 69 countries have been invited to the summit, including all African states.

BRICS, a loosely-defined group that sees itself as a counterweight to Western economic domination, derives its name from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The group represents 23 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 42 percent of the world’s population.

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