New Delhi is set to host the G20 meeting this week and a bunch of world leaders from USA, France, Australia, Germany, UK, Japan,etc. will be attending the event in person. However, soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed to India the news of his absence, it appears that Chinese President Xi Jinping is also likely to skip the summit. Although there is no written confirmation yet, the premier of the People’s Republic of China(PRC), Li Qiang is expected to lead the Chinese delegation.
This absurd move to not attend the G20 meeting is symbolic of many facets of Xi’s policy – Firstly, soon after the BRICS meeting where Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in person, the PRC released a set of ‘official map’ allegedly claiming Indian territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. The subsequent decision to skip the G20 summit signals China’s reluctance to solve the border disputes with India and unilaterally attempting to change the status quo.
Secondly, by not attending the G20 summit Xi is discrediting the global platform where East meets the West. It points out the authoritative desires of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) to portray Beijing as a leader of developing nations and create an alternative to the current world order by becoming the lone superpower. Missing the G20 meet means missing crucial opportunities to improve bilateral relations with countries that China has strained relationships with – starting with India, USA, Canada, issues with the Quad and other such disputations.
Lastly, Xi Jinping has decided not only to not attend the G20 meeting but he will also be absent at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and East Asia Summits in Jakarta. This displays the choice of isolation, i.e., rather than try to resolve the global issues by discussions and involvement at global and regional summits, Xi Jinping opts for isolation and remains reluctant to participate in collective action for global welfare.
With India’s rising GDP, recent successful space programmes and India winning the goodwill of the regions like Africa, West Asia and Southeast Asia – where China tried to dump its dominance, Xi Jinping doesn’t want to be at a place where India is at the centre, hence came the decision to skip the summit. And with China’s declining economy, its strained bilateral relationships, its image in the world receding down to be “unlikable”, its Belt and Road Initiative in doldrums and skyrocketing unemployment, it is quite intolerable for the PRC to see India emerge as a harmonizer of science and spirituality, the most sought after location for foreign investors, engage in cooperation instead of confrontation, and be a powerhouse of technology and diplomacy.