G20 China says Xi Jinping will not attend G20 summit in India

Xi Jinping’s visit to the G20 this weekend was ruled out all but after China’s Foreign Ministry announced that the team would be led by the country’s Premier Li Keqiang.

It is the first time a Chinese leader has not attended the first G20 leaders’ summit in 2008, although Xi only attended in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last week he hoped Xi would attend the summit in Delhi, but U.S. officials rejected opportunities for the two leaders to meet after reports that Xi’s attendance was doubtful.

Analysts have suggested that Xi’s absence could be a blow to host country India, which has been embroiled in border disputes with China. It may also be part of an apparent drive to elevate other multilateral groups over perceived US hegemony.

Xi most recently traveled to the BRICS summit in South Africa, where the Chinese leader is pushing for an alternative to Western-led groups such as the G20 and G7.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Mao Ning announced that Li will lead the delegation. He did not deny reporters’ claims that Xi would not attend, adding that it was unlikely that China’s two top leaders would both leave the country at the same time, let alone attend the same event.

“Xi’s boycott of the Western-heavy club of the G20 right after attending the BRICS summit may be a visual illustration of Xi’s ‘East rises, West falls’ narrative,” said Wen-Di Chung, a China expert and political scientist. at the Australian National University.

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Sung said it may also be to avoid meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, “at the height of the campaign against Japan’s Fukushima wastewater release,” or an act of solidarity with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was not present at the G20. Putin is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Xi and Biden, who have been trying to mend ties after years of deteriorating ties and repeated setbacks, last met in person at the G20 summit in Indonesia in November.

Represented by his vice president Kamala Harris at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Indonesia this week, Biden will travel to Vietnam after the G20.

At a press conference in Beijing on Monday, Mao accused the United States of following a “zero-sum Cold War mentality in dealing with its relations with Asian countries.”

“It must adhere to the basic principles of international relations, avoid targeting third parties, and not harm the peace, stability and development of the region,” he said.

Biden on Sunday mentioned Xi that he was still “going to see him,” but did not elaborate. Another major summit of world leaders is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November.

China and the US are in a battle for influence in the Indo-Pacific, but neither Xi nor Biden attended the ASEAN summit this week.

“Xi Jinping is setting his own agenda where his main concern is national security and he should stay in China and have foreign leaders meet him instead,” said Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Singapore, Reuters said.

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“But if Xi skips Apec, it will be very substantial after all the preparation on the US side, and it will reflect even worse on China’s future and its international standing because it still needs foreign investment.”

Other G20 leaders in attendance include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Additional reporting by Tau Yang and Reuters

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