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As India prepares for this weekend’s G-20 Summit, New Delhi is facing more than one hurdle from China as it goes all out to ensure a successful summit.
On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry announced 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 skipping the G-20 will certainly be seen as a snub – one not aimed only at India, the host, but at the West – although Indian officials were quick to play down the absence of the leaders of China, Russia and Mexico, pointing out correctly that most G-20 summits did not have full attendance. Yet the fact is Mr. Xi is certainly deviating from China’s usual protocol by missing his first G-20 since taking over in 2013. Moreover, Mr. Xi only recently attended the BRICS summit in South Africa on August 24 and hailed the group’s expansion, at a time when Beijing’s criticisms of the Western-led world order have grown only sharper.
Deputing Li Qiang to attend is a decision that goes beyond optics, as it also narrows the scope for a high-level intervention to forge a last-minute consensus. 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. Russia, China and Saudi Arabia have opposed the imposition of “carbon emission peaking” deadlines by the G-7 countries. There are differences between developed countries and the developing countries over the language on increasing representation of the Global South on the boards of international financial institutions like the World Bank. China has also objected to many of the Indian additions on millets, Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) and the use of the Sanskrit phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov this past weekend came out strongly against western attempts to foreground the Ukraine crisis at the multilateral platform saying that political issues should not be raised in keeping with the tradition of G-20 – a stand also shared by China. He further said the language of Bali Declaration 2022 that had mention of Ukraine will have to change when the G-20 countries meet in New Delhi.
Beyond the G-20, India-China relations faced yet another storm last week after Beijing on August 28 issued a new “standard map” for 2023 which continued to show the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh, the Aksai Chin region, and the entire South China Sea as part of China. India lodged a “strong protest” and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called out the map for its “absurd claims”. The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia also released separate statements voicing their opposition to it.
For an in-depth look at the latest developments on the India-China front unfolding against the backdrop of this weekend’s summit, check out this week’s World View by Suhasini Haidar, which can be read or watched here.
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- The Delhi G-20 summit needs to demonstrate climate leadership and strongly commit to collective action to combat climate change, write Aaron Maltasi, Claudia Strambo and Eileen Torres-Morales.
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- Avinash Godbole writes on the broader implications of China’s economic slowdown.
- Pakistani politics, scarred by its history of coups, coalitions and assassinations is by nature, rife with conspiracy-theories. Yet at this point, it is hard to look away from the cold hard facts, writes Suhasini Haidar.
- Uma Purushothaman on the rise and fall of a Russian warlord.