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Xi Jinping Likely to Skip G20 Summit in India

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to miss the upcoming G20 leaders' summit in India, according to sources in both India and China.

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping

Xi's Absence from G20 Summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to miss the upcoming G20 leaders' summit in India, with Premier Li Qiang likely to represent China instead, according to two Indian officials and one official from another G20 country. Neither the Indian nor Chinese foreign ministries have responded to requests for comment, but a Kyodo report suggests Li will also attend an East and Southeast Asian leaders summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Impact on U.S.-China Relations

The G20 summit was seen as an opportunity for a meeting between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden to stabilize relations strained by trade and geopolitical tensions. Although Biden has confirmed his attendance, Xi's absence makes it unlikely for the two leaders to meet, as both countries are now looking towards the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in San Francisco as the main potential venue for a Xi-Biden meeting this year.

Xi's Travel During Pandemic

Despite attending all in-person G20 summits since becoming president in 2013, except in 2021 during the COVID pandemic when he joined by video link, Xi has made few overseas trips since China relaxed its pandemic-induced border controls. While he recently attended a BRICS meeting in South Africa, the Chinese government gave no reason for his absence at a business forum there, where his speech was delivered by China's commerce minister.

India-China Relations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently spoke with Xi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit and expressed concerns about the border dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. Relations between India and China have been strained since the 2020 clash in the Himalayan frontier that resulted in 24 deaths. The G20 summit is particularly important for India, one of the fastest-growing major economies as China's post-pandemic recovery slows.

G20 Summit Controversies

Several G20 ministerial meetings in India have been contentious as Russia and China opposed joint statements condemning Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine last year. Xi's absence from the summit is likely to be a significant talking point among the attending nations.