New Delhi: Close on the heels of speculation that Chinese president Xi Jinping may be giving the G20 meet hosted by New Delhi a miss, The Wire has learnt from sources that it is Chinese premiere Li Qiang who will attend the event.
Indian authorities, the sources said, had known for a month that Xi will give the leaders’ summit a miss.
This will be Li’s first visit to India as premier.
The G20 summit will be held in New Delhi from September 8 to 10.
Xi had last visited India in 2019 for the second edition of the informal summit at Mamallapuram.
Since he took over leadership, Xi Jinping has attended all the in-person G20 summit meetings from 2013 to 2019. After the break for COVID-19, the next physical summit meeting took place in Rome in 2021. At that time, Beijing had said that Xi’s absence was due to China’s own regulations on COVID, which had been highly restrictive. The effects of the pandemic were still lingering in many places of the world then.
There has been no response from the Indian government on the matter yet.
As per PTI, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin was asked at a media briefing in Beijing on Thursday about a media report saying Xi is likely to skip the upcoming G20 summit in India.
“Of the Chinese leaders attending the G20 summit, I have nothing to offer at the moment,” Wang said.
Xi and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi met earlier this month for what was their first direct ‘conversation’ in over nine months, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa. China later publicly claimed that the informal talks were based on an Indian request. India responded, based on sources, that there was a “pending request” from China for a meeting.
With Chinese President Xi not attending, it would mean that two heads of states would not be attending the G-20 summit as Russian President Putin is also not attending the meeting.
China and India are currently embroiled in a three-year-old military stand-off at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020. India had largely frozen ties especially after a clash in June 2020 which led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers.
Following the ‘conversation’ in Johannesburg, Chinese ministry of natural resources released the 2023 edition of the standard map of China which continued to show Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin within its boundary.
While this was a routine exercise, the timing of the release and the publicity given to it through a state-run English tabloid raised eyebrows in New Delhi.
It riled up the Indian opposition and led to the Ministry of External Affairs to lodge a “strong protest”. China responded that it was a “routine exercise of sovereignty” and urged India to “not over-interpret”.