The Sun (Malaysia)

Xi to skip G20 summit in India

Biden ‘disappoint­ed,’ analysts say absence seen as snub of New Delhi


Premier Li Qiang will lead China’s delegation at a G20 summit in New Delhi this weekend, China’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday, indicating President Xi Jinping would not attend and scuppering chances of a meeting with US President Joe Biden there.

The Sept 9 and Sept 10 summit had been seen as a venue for a possible meeting between Xi and Biden, who has confirmed his attendance in New Delhi, following months of efforts by the two powers to stabilise ties frayed by trade and geopolitic­al tensions.

“The G20 is the main forum for internatio­nal economic cooperatio­n and China has always placed great importance on and proactivel­y taken part in such events,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told a press conference, when asked by a reporter why China’s “leader” would not attend.

Mao declined to directly confirm that Li’s attendance meant that Xi would not go, although she did not correct reporters who made that assertion.

Li leading the delegation at the G20 meeting makes it all but certain that Xi will not be going since China would not have both its president and premier abroad at the same time, let alone at the same event.

Biden said on Sunday that he was disappoint­ed Xi was not going to the summit but added that he was going to “get to see him”. Biden did not elaborate.

Xi last met Biden on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Indonesia in November. This will be the first time that a Chinese president has missed a leaders’ summit since the first edition was held in 2008, though in 2020 and 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Xi attended virtually.

Also absent from the New Delhi summit will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, following an Internatio­nal Criminal Court arrest warrant for him over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Russia will be represente­d by its foreign minister.

The other G20 leaders attending include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Australian National University political scientist Wen-Ti Sung pointed out that Xi had joined a meeting in South Africa last month of leaders of the BRICS group of major emerging economies.

“Xi’s skipping the West-heavy club of G20 right after attending the BRICS summit may be a visual illustrati­on of Xi’s narrative of ‘East is rising, and the West is falling,’ as well as showing solidarity with Russia’s President Putin who is also not attending.”

Xi’s absence from the G20 gathering could also be seen as a snub of host India, said some analysts, suggesting it could be a signal that China is unwilling to confer influence on its neighbour that boasts one of the fastest growing major economies while China’s slows.

Ties between India and China have been also troubled for more than three years after soldiers from both sides clashed on their disputed Himalayan frontier in June 2020, resulting in 24 deaths. – Reuters

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