Indian PM Modi refuses to disembark in South Africa as President is not present to welcome, contrasting China’s Xi Jinping. Diplomatic tensions arise amid the BRICS Summit and state visits.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declined to disembark from his aircraft upon arrival at Waterkloof Air Force Base in South Africa, reportedly in response to the South African government’s decision to send a Cabinet minister rather than President Cyril Ramaphosa to welcome him. The incident, occurring in parallel with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit and the commencement of the BRICS Summit on August 22nd, has raised eyebrows and sparked discussions about diplomatic protocol.
The situation drew attention as President Xi Jinping’s visit took center stage, overshadowing the reception for Prime Minister Modi. While President Ramaphosa personally greeted President Xi on the tarmac during his arrival the previous day, the Indian Prime Minister’s aircraft remained stationary as a gesture of protest.
According to reports, President Ramaphosa, recognizing the diplomatic misstep, hastily dispatched Deputy President Paul Mashatile from the ongoing formalities with President Xi at the Union Buildings to extend a belated welcome to Prime Minister Modi at Waterkloof.
President Xi’s visit was marked by several significant events, including an abbreviated state visit in preparation for the BRICS Summit. The Chinese President’s fourth state visit to South Africa was accompanied by the prestigious Order of South Africa award and a high-level roundtable discussion attended by African leaders. The discussions between Presidents Ramaphosa and Xi revolved mainly around addressing South Africa’s trade deficit with China.
Prime Minister Modi, despite the initial setback, delivered a keynote address at the BRICS Business Forum in Johannesburg, emphasizing India’s robust economic growth. He projected India’s ascent to becoming a $5 trillion economy in the near future, positioning the country as a global growth engine. Modi highlighted India’s achievements in economic reforms, ease of doing business, public service delivery, and digital transactions, touting India as a world leader in these areas.
The incident underscores the delicate balance of diplomatic relations within the BRICS alliance and the challenges of managing high-profile state visits amid overlapping summits. As the BRICS Summit progresses, observers are keen to see if the incident will impact the dynamics among member countries or serve as a catalyst for more nuanced diplomatic discussions.