Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen as the dominating force at the BRICS summit held in South Africa this week, receiving special treatment “from the minute he arrived”, unlike any other attending head of state, the Financial Times reported. Xi was the only state leader personally received by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the airport and was later given the “Order of South Africa”, an award Chinese state media described as “the highest decoration and the highest honor that South Africa awards to an important and friendly head of state.” In contrast, Narendra Modi, prime minister of the second largest BRICS country India, was received by Ramaphosa’s deputy upon his arrival in South Africa.
FT said the “real evidence” of Xi’s dominance at BRICS was seen in the bloc’s expansion, with the induction of six new countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. The expansion was in-line with Xi’s overarching plan to create a G7 rival and challenge the United States’ “hegemony”. Among other hints of Chinese dominance were state-owned Chery Automobile being the “official presidential vehicle partner” for the summit. Xi’s delegation also “took over” South African hotels, bringing in everything ranging from beds and mattresses to curtains and carpets from home. “There was nothing South African in the particular presidential room of the president of China,” South Africa’s police minister Bheki Cele was quoted as saying.
- Vishakha Saxena
Read the full report: Financial Times