China offers South Africa help to bolster security for BRICS summit after arrest warrant issued against Putin

Russia has not yet confirmed President Vladimir Putin’s attendance at the BRICS Summit. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

China on June 9 said it is ready to work with South Africa to bolster the security for the BRICS summit in August in light of the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

BRICS is an international grouping comprising China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa.

The 15th BRICS summit is set to take place in Johannesburg in August this year. The possible attendance of Mr. Putin — who is the subject of a war crimes arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) — has put South Africa’s handling of the warrant and summit security under the spotlight.

Also Read | Russia opens criminal probe into ICC after Putin arrest warrant

The ICC issued a warrant on Mr. Putin in March, accusing him of the unlawful deportation of children and transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

As a signatory to the ICC, South Africa will be obliged to execute the warrant if Mr. Putin visits the country for the BRICS Summit.

On Thursday, the South African Police Minister Bheki Cele who is on a visit in Beijing, held talks with Chinese Minister for Public Security Wang Xiaohong.

During talks, Mr. Wang told Mr. Cele that China is ready to work with South Africa to earnestly implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, and strengthen pragmatic cooperation in BRICS Summit security among others, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

South Africa is among some 40 African nations with which China has signed public security and law enforcement agreements, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted a report by Paul Nantulya, an Africa-China security expert at the National Defence University in Washington.

Mr. Wang also offered Chinese assistance for the security of Belt and Road projects, a crackdown on transnational crimes and law enforcement capacity building, promoting personnel exchanges and cooperation mechanisms at all levels, and pushing for more development of the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.

For his part, Mr. Cele said South Africa is willing to strengthen law enforcement and security cooperation with China so as to constantly advance bilateral relations, the Xinhua report said.

China’s offer of bolstering security at the BRICS summit assumed significance as the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Putin over human rights violations by the Russian security forces in the current Ukraine war.

South Africa, which is obliged to execute the arrest warrant as it is a signatory to the ICC has issued diplomatic immunity for attendees of the summit.

However, Russia has not yet confirmed Mr. Putin’s attendance at the BRICS Summit. According to media reports China, a close ally of Russia, has offered to host the summit.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted in the media saying on May 30 that “Russia will participate in the BRICS summit at an appropriate level”.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday parried questions on whether Chinese President, Xi Jinping will attend the BRICS summit or Beijing host the summit.

“I have no information to offer on these specific questions”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing.

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