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In a move that underscores a deep sense of mistrust between Beijing and Washington, China challenged the US presidency of the G20 in 2026.
Chinese officials used diplomatic meetings at the G20 summit in New Delhi this week to protest the US taking over the rotating presidency of the group of leading economies, four officials said. Ultimately the attempt failed.
The dispute over who will host the G20 in 2026 has fueled Sino-US tensions over many issues discussed at the annual meeting of world leaders, including Russia’s war on Ukraine and efforts to combat climate change.
The assignment of the rotating G20 presidency, which sets the agenda for the group’s deliberations that year, presides over ministerial meetings and hosts leaders’ summits, is usually a contentious exercise that follows a loose schedule.
But Chinese diplomats are calling for this year’s G20 summit to remove the reference to the expected US presidency in 2026, two people briefed on private discussions during the drafting process said. Western countries, including the UK, opposed the Chinese move and this phrase was included in the final version accepted by the leaders.
„We look forward to meeting again in Brazil in 2024, in South Africa in 2025 and in the United States in 2026 at the start of the next cycle,” the joint statement said.
A Chinese spokesman was not immediately available for comment on whether China objects to the US chairing the G20.
US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan told reporters on Saturday: “On the China issue, I can say the report is done, hosting the US to 2026 is part of it, and China has agreed. All G20 members have agreed to that, and we are happy.
Officials told the Financial Times that China’s stance surprised diplomats from other delegations and exposed myriad divisions between the two superpowers. China’s arguments against the US are „not G20-related issues,” said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The G20 does not have a permanent secretariat. Brazil will take over the presidency next year, followed by South Africa in 2025. After that, each member state will have held a summit, which means a new cycle will begin. The first G20 summit was held in Washington in 2008.
The U.S. has offered the 2026 presidency as a sign of its commitment to a bloc riven by geopolitical divisions created by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
„We look forward to hosting the G20 in 2026. Even without Russia’s active participation and the tensions created by the war, I still see the G20 as very useful,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in New Delhi. On Friday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping did not travel to India this weekend, the first time he or any Chinese leader has skipped the G20 summit. But Beijing has generally insisted it takes a positive approach to the group.
Questioned on Friday whether China’s objections on issues such as Ukraine and climate change supported the G20’s joint statement, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing was willing to cooperate with other parties under the principle of „consensus”.
“The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. China attaches great importance and actively participates in G20 activities,” the spokesperson said.
This week, China’s spy agency attacked the latest diplomatic overtures from the United States toward Beijing.
Additional reporting by Joe Leahy in Beijing
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