China's Absence Casts Shadow Over G20 Summit in India Amid Geopolitical Dynamics

China's Absence Casts Shadow Over G20 Summit in India Amid Geopolitical Dynamics

In a surprising turn of events, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to miss the upcoming G20 summit in India, according to insider sources in both India and China. This development has raised speculation about the potential cancellation of a meeting between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden. Some experts even suggest that Xi's absence could be seen as a strategic move towards India, underscoring China's reluctance to grant its flourishing southern neighbor significant influence, especially as India's economy continues to surge while China's growth rate moderates.


Multiple sources, including an Indian diplomat stationed in China and an official from another G20 nation, have indicated that Premier Li Qiang is likely to stand in for Beijing at the New Delhi summit on September 9-10. Notably, no official comments have been made by the Indian or Chinese foreign ministries regarding this matter. In addition to the G20 summit, Li is anticipated to attend the East and Southeast Asian leaders' summit in Jakarta, Indonesia from September 5-7.


The absence of Xi at the Indian summit marks a departure from previous expectations that the event could facilitate a meeting between Xi and Biden, especially as both countries grapple with strained trade and geopolitical relations. Xi's last meeting with Biden occurred during the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, back in November. Biden expressed his hope for Xi's attendance at the upcoming summit in New Delhi.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has already confirmed his nonattendance at the summit, opting to delegate Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.


An Indian senior government official, preferring to remain anonymous, acknowledged that Premier Li Qiang is expected to represent China at the summit. Meanwhile, sources within China, including foreign diplomats and officials from other G20 countries, revealed that Xi's nonattendance is likely. However, the reasons behind Xi's absence remain unclear.


The G20 summit holds considerable significance for India, as the country leverages recent successes like its lunar landing to assert its position as an emerging global power with lucrative markets and the potential to diversify the global supply chain. Nevertheless, the India-China relationship has been strained for several years, with a deadly clash between their border troops in June 2020 that led to multiple casualties.


Farwa Aamer, director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) in New York, suggested that Xi's decision to skip the summit could reflect China's hesitation to relinquish the spotlight to India. Aamer noted, "China is cautious about India becoming the prominent voice of the Global South or hosting a highly successful G20 summit in the Himalayan region."


As geopolitical dynamics continue to shape international relations, the absence of Xi Jinping at the G20 summit raises questions about the evolving power balance between China and India on the global stage.

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