NEW DELHI/BEIJING, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to skip next week’s G20 leaders’ summit in India, sources familiar with the matter in India and China told Reuters. There with US President Joe Biden.
Xi’s absence could be a blow to host India, according to some analysts, who say China is reluctant to exert influence over its southern neighbor, one of China’s fastest-growing major economies in a slowdown.
Two Indian officials, an ambassador based in China and an official working for the government of another G20 country, are expected to represent Beijing at the September 9-10 meeting in New Delhi.
Spokesmen for the Indian and Chinese foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
According to Kyodo’s report, Li is also expected to attend the East and Southeast Asian Leaders’ Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 5-7.
The summit in India has been seen as a potential meeting point between Xi and Biden, who has confirmed his arrival, as the two superpowers seek to stabilize ties marred by trade and geopolitical tensions.
Xi last met Biden last November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
„I hope he will attend,” Biden told reporters in Washington on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already said he will not travel to New Delhi and will send Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead.
A senior government official from India told Reuters that „we know the prime minister will come” to replace Xi.
In China, two foreign diplomats and a government official from another G20 country said Xi would not travel to the summit.
Two of these three sources in China said they had been briefed by Chinese officials but did not know why Xi was not expected.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The G20 summit is seen as an important showcase for India, as the country successfully lands on the moon and presents itself as a rising power with attractive markets and a source of global supply chain diversification.
But relations between the G20 host and China have been troubled for more than three years after soldiers from both sides clashed on the Himalayan border in June 2020, resulting in 24 deaths.
Farwa Amar, director of South Asia initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) in New York, said China’s skipping of the summit could read that China is „reluctant to cede a central position” to India.
„China doesn’t want India to be the voice of the Global South, or China to be that country in the Himalayan region hosting this successful G20 summit,” he said.
Eyes on APEC
Anticipation of a meeting between Xi and Biden has been fueled by a stream of high-level US officials visiting Beijing in recent months, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this week.
However, Chinese and US officials have told Reuters they expect November’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting in San Francisco to be the main venue for this year’s Xi-Biden meeting. between the two at the G20.
As yet, no meetings or formal visitation plans for APEC have been announced.
Since assuming the presidency in 2013, Xi has attended all other in-person G20 summits, except when he joined via video link in 2021 during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020 G20 meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia was called off due to the pandemic.
Xi, who was sworn in for a third term last October, has made few foreign trips since China abruptly abandoned border controls triggered by a severe pandemic this year.
Although he played a key role in a meeting of leaders of the BRICS group of major emerging economies in South Africa last week, the Chinese government gave no reason for his absence from the business forum there.
His scheduled speech was delivered by China’s Minister of Commerce.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a rare conversation with Xi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit and addressed India’s concerns over the border dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
Several G20 ministerial meetings in India ahead of the summit have been contentious, as Russia and China jointly opposed joint statements that included passages condemning Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine last year.
Reporting by Krishnan Kaushik in New Delhi, Larry Chen and Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing, and Michael Martina, Trevor Hunnicutt and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by YP Rajesh, John Geddy, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Andrew Havens
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Krishnan reports on political and strategic affairs from the Indian subcontinent. He has previously worked for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an international investigative consortium; Indian Express; And The Caravan writes on journalism, security, politics, law, corporations, media, elections and investigative programs. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, Krishnan has won several awards for his work. Contact: +918527322283
Larry Chen is a China correspondent in Reuters’ Beijing bureau, covering politics and public affairs. Before joining Reuters, he reported on China for six years at Agence France-Presse and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. She speaks Mandarin fluently.
Martin is a political and public affairs reporter based in Beijing (China). He has previously worked as a television reporter and video journalist and is fluent in Mandarin and French.
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