US President Joe Biden has expressed hope that Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the G20 leaders summit in India next week as reports were rife that the Chinese president will abstain from the meeting, the Guardian reported.
“I hope he attends,” Biden told reporters on August 31 in Washington, as some US officials played down the chances of a Xi-Biden meeting in New Delhi.
They suggested the two leaders of the world’s powerful countries would likely meet at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco in November.
The Chinese president’s likely absence was reported by Reuters on August 31.
Analysts quoted by Reuters said the move to abstain from the summit could be a signal that China is reluctant to confer influence on India.
The two neighbours faced off this week after Beijing released a map showing Arunachal Pradesh and the Doklam Plateau, over which the two sides have feuded in the past, as being within China’s borders, as India formally objected to the move.
The Chinese government urged India to “stay calm” over the map, with foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin calling on countries to refrain from “over-interpreting” the map, which also laid claim to disputed areas of the South China Sea.
It is pertinent to mention that Xi has attended all other in-person G20 summits since becoming president in 2013, except in 2021 when he attended by video link during the Covid-19.
Li is also likely to attend a summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia from September 5 to September 7, a report from Kyodo stated.
Xi last met Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already said he will not be travelling to New Delhi and will send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.
India and China relations have been tense for over three years after soldiers from both sides clashed in the Himalayan frontier in June 2020 which resulted in the killing of 24 from both countries.
Farwa Aamer, director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, said Xi skipping the summit could be read as China being “reluctant to cede the centre stage” to India.
“China doesn’t want India to be the voice of the Global South, or to be that country within the Himalayan region to be hosting this very successful G20 summit,” she said.
The anticipation of a likely meeting of Xi and Biden was fuelled by a number of top US officials’ visits to Beijing in recent months, including commerce secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this week.