President Joe Biden has expressed optimism about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the upcoming G20 Summit scheduled to occur in India next week. However, there have been reports suggesting that Xi might choose to skip the meeting.
“I hope he attends,” Biden told reporters on Thursday (August 31) in Washington while US officials played down the possibility of a Biden-Xi meeting in New Delhi. The officials suggested that it is more likely that the two leaders would meet at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or Apec conference which is due to be held in San Francisco in the month of November.
Reuters had reported the possibility of a meeting between Biden and Xi on Thursday. It has been reported that Xi’s decision to skip the G20 Summit may be linked to China’s rivalry with India. Reuters cited sources who said that Chinese officials had informed them about the expected absence of Xi Jinping at G20 Summit but they were unaware of the reason.
Relations between India and China came under fresh strain this week after Beijing released a map that showed the Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh as part of China. The map also includes Doklam Plateau, a region the two countries have feuded over, within Chinese borders.
On Tuesday, India lodged a formal objection with China while the latter urged India to “stay calm” over the map. Wang Wenbin, Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, called on nations to not over-interpret the map that also laid claim to the South China Sea.
Since he became president, Xi has attended all G20 meets in person, except in 2021 when he joined via video link due to the Covid pandemic.
Reports suggest that Chinese Premier Li Qiang was expected to represent China at the G20 Summit in New Delhi. The summit starts on September 9.
According to the Japanese news outlet Kyodo, Li is also expected to attend a summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta. The summit will take place between September 5 and 7.
Biden has confirmed his presence at the G20 Summit. Given the strained relations between the US and China, it was expected that Biden and Xi Jinping would meet to ease the tension.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already said that he will not be travelling to New Delhi. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would represent Russia during the summit.
India is coming off a successful lunar landing and G20 Summit is likely to be an important showcase for the country. India is seeking to project itself as a rising power with a vast market and a destination for global supply chain diversification.
But relations between India and China have been strained for the past few years.
“China doesn’t want India to be the voice of the Global South, or to be that country within the Himalayan region to be hosting this very successful G20 summit,” said Farwa Aamer, director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) in New York. Anwar was quoted by The Guardian.