NEW DELHI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to miss the G20 leaders’ summit in India next week, informed sources in India and China told Reuters.
Premier Li Qiang is expected to represent Beijing at the meeting to be held in New Delhi on September 9-10, two Indian officials, a diplomat based in China and an official working in the government of another G20 country said.
Spokesmen for the Indian and Chinese foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
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 range 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.
A senior government official from host India told Reuters, “We are aware that the prime minister will come” instead of Xi.
In China, two foreign diplomats and a government official from another G20 country said Xi would likely not travel to the summit.
The sources in China, two of whom said they were informed by Chinese officials, said they were unaware of the reason for his expected absence.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Expectations of a meeting between Xi and Biden have been fueled by a group 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 direct talks between the two leaders is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 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 suddenly dropped strict border controls caused by the pandemic this year.
However, he attended 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 before the summit were controversial as Russia and China jointly opposed joint statements that included paragraphs condemning Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine last year.
Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a rare conversation on the sidelines of a BRICS meeting in Johannesburg and discussed easing tensions in bilateral relations that were strained after clashes along their Himalayan border in 2020 that left 24 soldiers dead.
(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik in New Delhi and Laurie Chen and Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing; Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by YP Rajesh, John Geddy and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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