- China and the US are competing for power in the Indo-Pacific region, but neither Xi nor Biden went to this week's Asean meeting.
- The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, are also G20 leaders who will be there.
China’s foreign ministry said that Li Qiang, the country’s president, would be in charge of the team going to the G20 this weekend. This almost makes it impossible for Xi Jinping to go.
It will be the first time since the first G20 leaders’ meeting in 2008 that a Chinese leader didn’t go. However, Xi only went virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
Joe Biden, the vice president of the US, said last week that he hoped Xi would attend the summit in Delhi. However, US officials played down the chances of the two leaders meeting after reports that Xi’s appearance was uncertain.
Analysts thought that Xi’s decision not to go could be a slight to the host country, India, with whom China has border issues. It could also be part of a push to give more power to international groups that aren’t led by the US.
Xi’s most recent trip was to South Africa for the Brics meeting. The Chinese leader is pushing this group as an alternative to western-led groups like the G20 and G7.
The spokesperson for China’s foreign affairs, Mao Ning, said that Li would be in charge of the group. She didn’t disagree with what reporters said about Xi not going, and it’s very unlikely that China’s top two leaders would both be out of the country at the same time, let alone at the same event.
Wen-ti Sung, a China expert and political scientist at the Australian National University, said that Xi’s decision to skip the west-heavy G20 right after visiting the Brics summit may be a visual representation of Xi’s claim that “the east is rising and the west is falling.”
Sung said it could also be to avoid meeting Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida “at the height of its propaganda campaign against Japan’s Fukushima wastewater release” or to show unity with Vladimir Putin, who is also not going to the G20. Putin is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, which has issued a warrant for his arrest.
The last time Xi and Biden met in person was in November, on the steps of the G20 in Indonesia. Their governments have been trying to fix their relationship for years, but have had a lot of problems.
Biden’s vice president, Kamala Harris, is attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Indonesia this week on his behalf. After the G20, Biden will fly to Vietnam.
At a press conference on Monday in Beijing, Mao said that the US was treating its ties with Asian countries with a “zero-sum cold war mentality.”
She said, “It should follow the basic rules of international relations, not go after third parties, and not hurt the peace, stability, or progress in the region.”
On Sunday, Biden said that he would still “get to see him,” meaning Xi, but he didn’t say more. In November, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit will be held in San Francisco. This will be another important meeting of world leaders.
China and the US are competing for power in the Indo-Pacific region, but neither Xi nor Biden went to this week’s Asean meeting.
Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, told Reuters, “Xi Jinping makes his own plans. His top priority is national security, so he has to stay in China and have foreign leaders come visit him instead.”
“But if Xi doesn’t go to Apec, it would be a big deal after all the work the US has put into getting ready for it, and it would look even worse for China’s future and international standing since it still needs foreign investment.”
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, are also G20 leaders who will be there.