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Xi Jinping’s absence from G20 summit seen as bad news for Sino-India ties

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep03’23) – Chinese President Xi Jinping had no problem flying all the way to South Africa to attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg from Aug 22 to 24, but is not coming to what China considers its next door neighbour India for the G20 summit to be held in New Delhi over Sep 9-10. This is seen as reflecting a lack of willingness on Xi’s part to make any substantive improvement in relations with India by addressing New Delhi’s concerns even as their border issue across occupied Tibet continues to fester.

Xi’s decision to skip the G20 summit has been confirmed by official sources on Sep 2, reported the timesofindia.com Sep 3, adding it won’t affect the event in any way.

US President Joe Biden had expressed hope earlier this week that Xi would show up at the event, with a possibility of meeting with him on its sidelines.

China is now expected to be represented at the summit by its Premier Li Qiang.

Still, Indian authorities don’t believe that the absence of any leader from a summit like the G20 is a reflection on the host, the report said.

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Nevertheless, Veteran US journalist Fareed Zakaria has said there will be “significant implications” if Xi skips the G20 Summit, potentially signalling a shift in China’s approach to global affairs.

“There’s something going on there where there is a degree of competitiveness or neuralgia about it…Maybe because it involves Tibet,” Zakaria has said in an interview with Rahul Kanwal, Executive Director of Business Today.

If Xi Jinping skips the G20 summit, it would “add to the feeling” that China is “not trying to move forward and resolve the tensions with India”, businesstoday.in Sep 1 quoted Zakaria as saying.

He has noted that of the 16 border disputes that China has had over the last 20 years with several of its neighbours, the one with India is the only one which has not been resolved.

Hence, Xi’s potential absence from the G20 Summit in New Delhi is viewed as a diplomatic snub, indiatoday.in earlier noted Sep 1.

X’s not coming hints at China preferring to stay away from a dialogue at the level of heads of state on the crucial border issues in Ladakh that soured relations between the two countries since 2020, the report said.

The G20 summit is a big deal for Prime Minster Modi, and for Jinping to snub this way is a strong signal from China, it cited Zakaria as saying while speaking to New Director Rahul Kanwal of India Today.

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However, according to Jayadeva Ranade, President of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy and a former top Indian bureaucrat, Xi had backed out of other foreign commitments too – including the upcoming ASEAN and East Asia Summits – and his absence from the G20 summit should not therefore be seen as a snub to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But given that he signalled on the opening day of the 20th Party Congress in October last year that relations with India will not improve, and his unwillingness to have a substantive discussion on resolving the border issue with Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit recently, Xi Jinping not attending the G-20 Summit and avoiding an opportunity to discuss the situation on the China-India border implies that India must prepare for a period of tension possibly punctuated with occasional clashes, he has said in a piece on stratnewsglobal.com Sep 3.

He sees Xi’s deputing of Premier Li at the G20 summit as not a delegation of authority but the possibility of problems related to his health or intensifying inner-Party factionalism.

There is growing discontent with Xi Jinping and his policies because of the slowing economy, mounting joblessness, steadily increasing doses of compulsory study of Xi Jinping’s thoughts for Party members, imposition of progressively stringent security regulations, the policy towards Russia, and mishandling of China’s relations with the US, to name a few, he has noted.

Ranade has said these have led to party members and other sections of society being dissatisfied with Xi and openly voicing their concerns in articles in official or pro-CCP publications over some of his policies.

The publication of these articles point to the emergence, or strengthening, of factions within the CCP opposed to Xi Jinping, he has said.

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