China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that President Xi Jinping will for the first time skip a G-20 summit, with the Chinese Premier and second-ranked leader Li Qiang instead deputed to attend the September 9-10 meet in New Delhi.
No reasons have been given for Mr. Xi skipping the summit, a key annual diplomatic event that China has usually placed special emphasis on, viewing it as an important platform to shape the global order and exert its rising clout.
Mr. Xi only recently attended the BRICS summit in South Africa on August 24, when he hailed the decision to expand the grouping. Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not have a formal bilateral meeting in South Africa but held an informal conversation on the sidelines, during which they discussed the as yet unresolved crisis along the Line of Actual Control.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday announced that “at the invitation of India, Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the G-20 summit from September 9 to 10 in India.”
“As the world economy experiences more downward pressure and challenges grow for global sustainable development, it is important that the G-20, being the premier forum for international economic cooperation, strengthen partnership and rise up to the big challenges facing global economy and development so as to contribute to world economic recovery and growth and global sustainable development,” spokesperson Mao Ning said. “We hope the New Delhi summit will form consensus on that, send out a message of confidence, and promote shared prosperity and development.”
Asked why Mr. Xi will skip the summit, Ms. Mao declined to provide a reason, only saying that “China has all along attached great importance to and taken an active part in G-20 events.” “During this year’s G-20 Summit, Premier Li Qiang will share China’s views and propositions on G-20 cooperation, and promote greater solidarity and cooperation among G-20 countries and joint response to global economic and development challenges. We are ready to work with all parties to make the G-20 Summit a success and contribute to the steady recovery of the global economy and sustainable development.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have already regretted being unable to attend the summit. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Mexican Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro Sanchez will attend in their place.
Official sources played down the absence of the three leaders. “In today’s world with so many demands on the leaders’ time, it is not always possible for every leader to attend every summit,” official sources said, on background, in a written response to media reports about the absence of some countries at the Heads of State/Heads of Government levels.
“From time to time, many leaders skip summits for their own reason… These things do not reflect anything about the host country”, they added in the response, pointing out that at least six leaders did not attend the Rome G-20 summit in 2021.
Negotiators this week are meeting for one final push towards a joint statement, which every G-20 summit has so far been able to issue. That might not, however, happen in New Delhi given Russia and China opposing a reference to Ukraine, as well as other differences between developed and developing countries on issues such as climate financing. As The Hindu reported previously, Chinese officials have also objected to some of India’s additions, including the use of the Sanskrit phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.