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Why China’s President Xi Jinping is not attending G20 Summit in India?

In an unexpected change of events, Chinese President Xi Jinping has chosen to boycott the next G20 Summit in India, raising eyebrows and generating major discussion. This decision comes as a surprise, given the G20 Summit offers a venue for world leaders to engage in vital debates on numerous international concerns. Chinese Premier Li Qiang will be representing the country instead, marking the first time a Chinese president has missed this renowned event since its beginning in 2008.

The G20 Summit in India

The G20 Summit, set for September 9 and 10, 2023, in the national capital of India, was supposed to be a gathering of international leaders, including President Xi Jinping. However, this will not be the case. The absence of China’s top leader has led to a plethora of speculations and ideas regarding the reasons behind this surprise move.

President Xi’s Recent Engagements

One key factor to examine is President Xi’s recent diplomatic activities. Just last month, Xi participated in a meeting in South Africa, where leaders of the BRICS group of key rising economies convened. This has encouraged political scientists and observers to suspect that his decision to forgo the G20 Summit might be a strategic maneuver.

Wen-Ti Sung, a political scientist at the Australian National University, says that President Xi’s absence from the G20 Summit could be a visual depiction of his narrative that ‘East is rising, and the West is collapsing.’ This narrative accords with his solidarity with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who is also notably absent from the ceremony.

Focus on Domestic Issues

Another take on President Xi’s absence comes from Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Wu feels that President Xi might be reluctant to visit abroad because to his major focus on local issues.

“Xi Jinping is setting his own agenda where his top concern is national security, and he has to stay in China and make foreign leaders visit him instead,” Wu explained. This priority of national security and internal problems could be a driving element behind his decision to skip the G20 Summit.

A Possible Snub to India

Additionally, some commentators have claimed that President Xi’s absence from the G20 Summit could be regarded as an insult to host country India. This position argues that China might be unwilling to recognise India’s growing importance, especially considering its standing as one of the fastest-growing major economies. In contrast, China’s own economic growth has been declining in recent times.

Lingering Tensions

Lastly, it is vital to highlight the current tensions between India and China. For over three years, these two Asian giants have been entangled in a boundary dispute in the Himalayas, culminating in a violent fight in June 2020 that resulted in 24 fatalities. This protracted issue has strained diplomatic relations and could play a role in President Xi’s decision to boycott from the summit hosted by India.

 

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