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China confirms Xi Jingping’s absence from G20 amid tensions with India

China said on Monday (4) that leader Xi Jinping will miss a key meeting of the world’s 20 major economies for the first time. Premier Li Qiang will travel to the event, which takes place this weekend, in his place.

Xi’s absence from the G20 summit comes as tensions rise between China and host country India over the border dispute between the two countries and New Delhi’s growing ties with the United States.

Questions over Xi’s participation in the meeting were first raised last week, when Reuters reported that the Chinese leader was unlikely to attend, citing two unnamed Indian diplomats.

At a regular press conference on Monday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Li would attend the summit on Saturday and Sunday, without mentioning Xi.

Mao Ning, a spokesman for the ministry, dodged a question from a reporter about why Xi did not attend.

“The Group of 20 is an important forum for international economic cooperation, and China has always attached great importance and actively participated in relevant activities,” Mao said, without addressing the issue.

Even during the Covid pandemic, Xi attended the 2020 and 2021 meetings via video conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will also not attend the summit. Russia will be represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Beijing’s announcement has dashed hopes that Xi and US President Joe Biden will meet as the two superpowers seek to stabilize their relations.

In anticipation of confirmation from Beijing, Biden on Sunday publicly expressed his disappointment at not seeing Xi in New Delhi.

“I’m disappointed — but I’ll see him,” Biden told reporters on Sunday.

Biden had already told the CNN that he would meet Xi “in the autumn”.

The two leaders last spoke in person in November 2022 at the G20 Summit in Bali, where they pledged to restore communication channels in an effort to prevent rising tensions from escalating into open conflict. That meeting was the only time the two had met in person since Biden took office.

Four US cabinet officials have visited Beijing in recent months after an alleged Chinese spy balloon derailed a fledgling rapprochement effort earlier this year.

Xi’s absence from the G20 summit also means he will not have a formal bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two neighbors remain at loggerheads over their disputed border.

Xi and Modi agreed on “stepping up efforts” to ease border tensions at last month’s BRICS summit in South Africa — which was seen as a step towards repairing their strained relationship.

But tensions rose again last week when India filed a “strong protest” against the recently published national map of China, which was said to include the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the disputed Aksai-Chin plateau in Chinese territory.

The disputed border has been a source of friction between New Delhi and Beijing and resulted in a war in 1962 that ended in a Chinese victory.

Tensions rose again in 2020 after a deadly scuffle in the Galwan Valley that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.

See also: G20 split over Ukraine is a challenge for Brazil

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Source: CNN Brasil

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