G20 summit: Xi Jinping to skip meeting in India, China signals Premier Li Keqiang to travel

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China indicated on Monday that President Xi Jinping will skip a crucial meeting of the world’s top 20 economies for the first time, replacing him with Premier Li Qiang traveling to the event in New Delhi later this week.

Absence from the G20 summit comes amid rising tensions between China and its host country, India, particularly over their disputed border and New Delhi’s growing ties with the US.

China’s no-show of a top leader, unprecedented since the first summit in 2008, will be seen as a disappointment for India, which is hosting a powerful group of world leaders for the first time amid efforts to boost its global influence. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Questions about Ji’s attendance at the meeting were first raised last week Reuters Citing two unnamed Indian diplomatic officials, it was reported that the Chinese leader might miss it.

Li, China’s second-ranking leader, said at a regular news conference on Monday, China’s foreign ministry said. Not to mention Xi, who will attend the summit on Saturday and Sunday.

Ministry spokesman Mao Ning dismissed a reporter’s question about Xi’s reason for not attending.

„The Group of 20 is an important forum for international economic cooperation, and China has always attached great importance to and actively participated in related activities,” Mao said, without specifying the subject of the question.

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Even during the Covid pandemic, Xi attended meetings via video link in 2020 and 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces an international arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will also skip the summit. Instead, he will be represented by Russia’s foreign minister.

Brian Hart, a fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Xi’s absence from the G20 summit was „very conspicuous,” but given Beijing’s opacity one can only speculate as to the reasons behind the decision.

„It could be a deliberate tirade against India or Xi is concerned with domestic issues. He added that Xi did not feel the time was right to meet certain leaders like President Biden or Prime Minister Modi.”

„But sentiments matter. Even if it is a betrayal against India, some will see it as such.

Beijing’s announcement dashed hopes that Xi and US President Joe Biden could meet at the summit, as the two superpowers seek to cement their rocky ties.

Barring confirmation from Beijing, Biden publicly expressed disappointment on Sunday that he would not be able to visit Xi in New Delhi.

„I’m disappointed — but I’m going to see him,” Biden told reporters Sunday.

Biden had previously told CNN that he would meet with Xi „in the fall.”

The two leaders last spoke in person on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali in November 2022, where they pledged to restore communication channels in an effort to prevent the spread of open conflict. That meeting was the only time the two met in person after Biden took office.

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Video thumbnail Biden Xi Bali meeting

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Four US cabinet officials have visited Beijing in recent months, after a suspected Chinese spy balloon derailed a new attempt at reconciliation earlier this year.

As the G20 did not attend the G20 summit, he will not hold a formal bilateral meeting with Modi as the two nuclear-armed neighbors are at loggerheads over their contested border.

G and Modi agreed On the sidelines of last month’s BRICS summit in South Africa to „intensify efforts” to defuse border tensions – seen as a step towards mending their fraught relationship.

But tensions rose again when India registered last week.Strong resistance” against China’s newly released national map, which includes the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the disputed Aksai-Sin Plateau in Chinese territory.

The disputed border has long been a source of friction between New Delhi and Beijing, with the rebellion spilling over into a 1962 war that ended in a Chinese victory.

Tensions rose again in 2020 as a result of the killing of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese in the Galwan Valley.

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