China's Xi likely to skip G20 summit in India – sources

NEW DELHI/BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to skip a summit of G-20 leaders in India next week, sources familiar with the matter in India and China told Reuters.

Two Indian officials, one diplomat based in China and one official working for the government of another G-20 country, said Premier Li Qiang is expected to represent Beijing at the Sept 9 to Sept 10 meeting in New Delhi.

Spokesmen for the Indian and Chinese foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

The summit in India had been viewed as a venue at which Mr Xi may meet with US President Joe Biden, who has confirmed his attendance, as the two superpowers seek to stabilise relations soured by a range of trade and geopolitical tensions.

Mr Xi last met Mr Biden on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will not be travelling to New Delhi and will send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.

One senior government official from host India told Reuters that “we are aware that the premier will come”, in place of Mr Xi.

In China, two foreign diplomats and a government official from another G-20 country said that Mr Xi will likely not be travelling for the summit.

The sources in China, two of whom said they were informed by Chinese officials, said they were not aware of the reason for his expected absence.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Anticipation of a meeting between Mr Xi and Mr Biden has been fuelled by a stream of top US officials visiting Beijing in recent months, including a trip by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this week.

Another upcoming summit mooted for face-to-face talks between the two leaders is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in San Francisco on Nov 12 to Nov 18.

Mr Xi, who secured a precedent-breaking third term as leader in October 2022, has made few overseas trips since China abruptly dropped strict pandemic-induced border controls this year.

He did, however, attend a meeting from leaders of the Brics group of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in South Africa last week.

Several G-20 ministerial meetings in India ahead of the summit have been contentious, as Russia and China together opposed joint statements which included paragraphs condemning Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Mr Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a rare conversation on the sidelines of the Brics meeting in Johannesburg and discussed reducing tensions in the bilateral relationship that soured after clashes along their Himalayan frontier in 2020 left 24 soldiers dead. REUTERS


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