According to sources familiar with the matter in both India and China, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to skip the upcoming G20 summit of world leaders in India, scheduled for September 9-10. Instead, Premier Li Qiang is likely to represent Beijing at the event.
Despite inquiries, spokespersons for both the Indian and Chinese foreign ministries have not provided official comments or confirmations regarding Xi’s absence.
The G20 summit in India had been seen as a potential opportunity for Xi Jinping to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden, who has confirmed his attendance. The two superpowers have been striving to mend their relations, which have been strained by various trade and geopolitical issues. The last meeting between Xi and Biden occurred on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November of the previous year.
In addition to Xi’s expected absence, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already declared that he will not travel to New Delhi, choosing instead to send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as his representative.
A senior Indian government official involved in hosting the summit stated, “We are aware that the premier will come,” referring to Premier Li Qiang as the likely representative for China in place of Xi.
Sources in China, including foreign diplomats and government officials from other G20 countries, have also suggested that Xi will not be attending the summit. However, they did not have information on the specific reasons for his expected absence.
All sources provided this information on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The anticipation of a potential meeting between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden has been fueled by multiple high-level U.S. officials visiting Beijing in recent months, including a recent trip by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Another upcoming summit that has been proposed for a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in San Francisco, scheduled for November 12-18.
Xi Jinping, who secured a precedent-breaking third term as China’s leader in October of the previous year, has made few overseas trips since China eased strict pandemic-induced border controls earlier this year. However, he did participate in a meeting with leaders of the BRICS group of major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) in South Africa just last week.