Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the G-20 Summit in India instead of President Xi Jinping, marking the first time a Chinese president has been absent since the first Leaders’ Summit in 2008. Following Russian President Vladimir Putin, he would become the second well-known person to skip the event. However, some analysts believe Xi’s focus on domestic issues may make him hesitate to travel abroad, as national security is his top priority. Some analysts also suggest Xi’s absence could insult the host, India. Relations between India and China have remained weak for three years after the disputed Himalayan border conflict in June 2020.
Why isn’t Xi Jinping, the president of China, at the G20 summit in India?
“Some analysts suggested that it might be a sign that China is unwilling to exert influence over its southern neighbor, India, which has one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies even as China’s economy slows,” according to Reuters.
Xi Jinping becomes the second prominent figure to skip the G-20 summit
Instead of President Xi Jinping, Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the G-20 Summit in India, currently slated to take place on September 9 and 10 in the capital. He would then join Russian President Vladimir Putin as the second prominent figure to forego the occasion.
Since the first leaders’ summit, which took place in 2008, this will be the first time a Chinese president remains absent; however, Xi attended virtually in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under-Developed East is growing, and the Prosperous West is declining”
Wen-Ti Sung, a political scientist at the Australian National University, noted that Xi participated in a meeting of the leaders of the BRICS group of significant emerging economies last month in South Africa, according to Reuters.
“Xi’s skipping the West-heavy G20 club right after attending the BRICS summit may be a visual illustration of his message that the “East is growing, and the West is declining,” as well as a gesture of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is also skipping the event,” Sung said.
Focus on domestic issues
On the other hand, Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, thinks that because he concentrates on domestic concerns, Xi may hesitate to travel abroad. “National security is Xi Jinping’s top priority, so he must remain in China and force foreign leaders to visit him instead,” Wu told Reuters.
Insult to the host nation
Some analysts also suggested that Xi’s absence from the G20 summit could insult the host nation, India. According to Reuters, they indicated that it might be a sign that China is refusing to exert influence over its southern neighbor, which has one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies.
After soldiers from both sides engaged in combat on their disputed Himalayan border in June 2020, which resulted in 24 fatalities, relations between India and China remained weak for three years.