Why did Chinese President Xi Jinping not attend the G20 summit?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly after a long gap in September this year after the second wave of Coronavirus Kovid-19 slowed down, but Chinese President Xi Jinping did not.

Right now the G-20 conference is going on in Rome, Italy and the Chinese President did not even attend it. The meeting of BRICS was to be held in India this time but that too was virtual. The Chinese President did not go to Dushanbe even in the SACO meeting. It is not only Xi Jinping who did this, but Russian President Vladimir Putin also did not attend these meetings himself.

At the G20 summit in Italy’s capital Rome, many world leaders are discussing issues such as climate change, global tax rates, supply disruptions and global vaccination. But in the meantime, the discussion is also of those leaders who are neither present in the G20 summit nor are going to participate in the Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow.

These global leaders are President Xi Jinping of China, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and Andres Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico. The most discussed among these leaders is about the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Issues such as China’s role in reducing carbon emissions at the climate change conference and confrontation with the US add to the Chinese president’s absence.

Xi Jinping is not attending the G20 summit at a time when there is tension in China’s relations with the countries involved. China’s relations with the US and Australia are in a bad phase, and relations with Britain, Canada and European countries remain in trouble.

Foreign tours have stayed for 21 months

The matter is not limited to the G20 summit and COP26, but the foreign visits of the Chinese President have seen a lot less than before. Xi Jinping has not left China for the last 21 months. The American newspaper New York Times has also published a report regarding this.

The reason for this is being attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Although this is not explicitly stated. It is also being considered a sign of major changes in China’s foreign and domestic policy. But what could be the effect of the absence of the supreme leader of a country aspiring to be a global leader in foreign forums? After all, how is China serving its diplomatic interests?

The pitfalls of trying to be a global leader

China’s relations with the US and its allies are not in good shape. The US has formed groups like Quad and Ocus to reduce China’s dominance, which China has been objecting to. In such a situation, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China does not seem willing to cooperate much with America and its allies.

Experts believe that Xi Jinping’s absence from global forums has also sabotaged his efforts to be an alternative to the US as a global leader. It has also had an impact on China’s relations with many countries.

Whether Xi Jinping’s health or internal politics, China’s focus remains more on internal issues. This also includes the meeting of the Communist Party to be held next year, in which Xi Jinping can be elected the leader of the country for the next five years. In such a situation, diplomatic relations formed by meeting leaders face-to-face are not as priority as they were in the first year of Xi Jinping’s term.

A year ago, China made concessions to an investment deal with the European Union to complete a deal stalled by political sanctions. America’s troubles increased with this move. But after this China did not accept the invitation of Xi Jinping to meet with European leaders in Europe.

Helena Lagarda, senior analyst at the Mercator Institute of China Studies in Berlin, told The New York Times that this attitude of China would reduce the chances of meeting leaders at the top level. In-person meetings often prove to be effective in reducing the difficulties in an agreement or tension in the relationship. The absence of Xi Jinping in Rome and Glasgow will also affect progress made on issues such as preparedness to come out of the Corona epidemic and fight climate change.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden had expressed his desire to meet Xi Jinping separately on issues like climate change, keeping the issues of tension with China aside. Although both the leaders have agreed for the virtual summit by the end of this year but no date has been announced.

Guardians of the multinational system and closed borders

At the Global Economic Forum meeting in Davos five years ago, Xi Jinping presented himself as the custodian of the multinational order, while former US President Donald Trump emphasized the policy of ‘America First’. But experts believe that by keeping its borders closed, especially due to Kovid-19, China cannot play such a role at the global level. Strict rules have been made regarding the entry of foreign travelers into China.

The New York Times wrote, the problem is that if Xi Jinping goes out of China, he will also have to follow China’s Kovid rules when he comes back, otherwise he may face criticism for putting himself above the rules.

China’s phone diplomacy

Even though President Xi Jinping is not leaving the country, China has not given up efforts to improve diplomatic relations. China has played a key role in negotiations with the Taliban, along with Russia and Pakistan. He still appears to be active in relations with the Taliban.

President Jinping has held several conference calls with European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is present at the G20 summit and Xi Jinipang also addressed the conference via video.

The South China Morning Post quoted an EU official as saying that he does not think Xi Jinping’s absence will affect the prospect of agreements on issues such as the use of coal, the distribution of vaccines, global corporate taxes and rising energy prices. An excellent team has been sent for talks with both China and Russia, the official said. He is very active, has come up with many proposals and is actively participating.

Before joining the G20 summit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had informed that President Xi Jinping would attend the G20 summit via video link. He himself will attend the conference as a special representative of the Chinese President.

Wang Yi said about China’s expectations from the G20 summit, the G20 should adhere to multilateralism as the primary forum for international economic cooperation and maintain the spirit of solidarity and cooperation. China stands ready to work with all parties for a successful Rome summit as soon as possible to achieve the global victory over COVID-19 and contribute to the balanced recovery and development of the global economy.

Many foreign rounds before Corona

Talking about Xi Jinping’s foreign tours, the situation was completely different before the Corona epidemic. He had also left behind former US President Barack Obama and Donald Trump in terms of foreign visits. In the years before Kovid, Xi Jinping traveled to 14 countries annually and spent an average of 34 days abroad, while Barack Obama’s average was 25. Days and Donald Trump’s average has been 23 days. Xi Jinping visited Myanmar in January 2020 before the lockdown in Wuhan.

However, now many countries have started relaxing the rules regarding Kovid-19 and a large population has been vaccinated. Now it remains to be seen how much importance Xi Jinping attaches to foreign visits and what role he will play at the global level when the Kovid rules are softened in China in the coming times.
Copy : Kamlesh