Chinese President Xi Jinping left Monday for South Africa, where he is to pay a state visit and attend the BRICS summit, official media said.
His stay in the African country will be his second foreign trip of the year, following a visit to Russia in March.
"Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Monday for the 15th BRICS summit to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and for a state visit to South Africa," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The BRICS summit ( Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa ), a group of countries that intends to constitute a counterweight to Western influence, will take place this week from Tuesday to Thursday.
The heads of state of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and of China, Xi Jinping, will be present. India will be represented by its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and Russia by its Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, under an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Ukraine, will participate by videoconference.
Xi Jinping has already visited South Africa in 2018 to strengthen his country's diplomatic and economic ties with the African continent. Expanding the membership of the BRICS, which already make up 42% of the world's population, is expected to be discussed at this week's summit in Johannesburg.
About forty countries have applied for membership or expressed an interest in joining the group. Iran, Argentina, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are notably among the contenders.