Chinese President Xi Jinping. (AFP)
New Delhi/Washington: China confirmed on Monday that President Xi Jinping will not be attending the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi on September 9 and 10, and announced that Premier Li Qiang will attend in his place. In all, heads of state/government of 17 of the 20 G-20 members are believed to have so far confirmed their participation at the summit to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A few days ago Russia had said it would be represented by its foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. It is understood that the President of Mexico, a G-20 member, hasn’t attended the G-20 summit since 2018.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning announced in Beijing on Monday: "At the invitation of the government of the Republic of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G-20 Summit to be held in New Delhi, India, on September 9 and 10." While no official reason was given for President Xi’s absence, it is well known that ties between the two Asian giants remain strained since 2020 over the border issue and situation in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control after Beijing had amassed troops there in violation of its border pacts with India.
Beijing said Chinese PM Li Qiang will travel to New Delhi after attending the Asean and East Asia summits in Jakarta, which will also be attended by Prime Minister Modi.
In Washington, US President Joe Biden said he is looking forward to his trip to India this week but is "disappointed" that China’s Xi Jinping will not attend the Delhi summit. Mr Biden will travel to India on September 7 to participate in the
G-20 summit and will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 8 on the sidelines of the historic meeting, the White House announced on Friday.
Ahead of his trip, reporters asked Mr Biden Sunday whether he was looking forward to his visits to India and Vietnam. "Yes, I am," Mr Biden replied.
He expressed his disappointment over Mr Xi of China not attending the summit. "I am disappointed, but I am going to get to see him," Mr Biden said, in response to a question.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier told Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his inability to attend but had said Moscow would be represented by Mr. Lavrov.
The G-20, or Group of Twenty, is an "intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies and comprises 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the US) and the European Union (EU)" Collectively, the G-20 "accounts for 85 per cent of global GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population, making it the premier forum for international economic cooperation".
Prime Minister Narendra had earlier sought full membership of the G-20 grouping for the African Union (AU), a "continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent". The AU is expected to be granted membership of the G-20 at the Delhi summit, which will make the grouping a "G-21".
India, as the G-20 president, has also invited Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE as guest countries and most leaders of these countries are expected to attend.