NEW DELHI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to miss the G20 leaders’ summit in India next week, sources familiar with the matter in India and China told Reuters.
Two Indian officials, a diplomat based in China and an official working for the government of another G20 country said that Premier Li Qiang is expected to represent Beijing at the meeting in New Delhi on Sept. 9-10.
Spokesmen for the Indian and Chinese foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
Li is also likely to attend a summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia, from Sept. 5 to 7, according to a report by Kyodo.
The summit in India was seen as a place where Xi might meet US President Joe Biden, who has confirmed his attendance, as the two superpowers seek to stabilize relations strained by a combination of trade and geopolitical tensions.
Xi last met Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will not travel to New Delhi and will send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.
“We are aware that the prime minister will come” in place of Xi, a senior government official from host India told Reuters.
In China, two foreign diplomats and a government official from another G20 country said Xi would likely not travel to the summit.
Two of those three sources in China said they had been informed by Chinese officials, but were unaware of the reason for Xi’s expected absence.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Anticipation of a meeting between Xi and Biden has fueled a host of senior US officials who have visited Beijing in recent months, including a trip by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this week.
Another highly anticipated summit for face-to-face talks between the two leaders is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco on November 12-18.
Xi, who secured a third term as leader last October, has made few trips abroad since China abruptly dropped strict border controls brought on by the epidemic this year.
However, he did attend a meeting of leaders of the BRICS group of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in South Africa last week.
Several G20 ministerial meetings in India ahead of the summit were contentious, with Russia and China jointly opposing joint statements that included passages condemning Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine last year.
Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a rare conversation on the sidelines of a BRICS meeting in Johannesburg, discussing easing tensions in bilateral ties that soured after clashes along their Himalayan border in 2020 left 24 soldiers dead.
(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik in New Delhi and Laurie Chen and Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing; Reporting by Mohamed for The Arabic Bulletin) Editing by YB Rajesh, John Geddy and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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