The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday officially confirmed that Premier Li Qiang will represent Beijing at the G20 Summit to be held in India this week. This announcement puts to rest recent reports suggesting that Chinese President Xi Jinping would not attend the high-profile diplomatic event.
“At the invitation of the government of the Republic of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 Summit to be held in New Delhi, India on September 9 and 10," Chinese Foreign Ministry Mao Ning said in a press release.
When asked at a press briefing about whether the announcement meant Xi would not travel to New Delhi, Mao said: “I made an announcement about this just now." “What I can tell you is that the G20 is an important forum for international economic cooperation. China has always placed high importance on and actively participated in relevant events," she was quoted as saying by AFP.
“In attending this meeting, Premier Li Qiang will convey China’s thoughts and positions on G20 cooperation, pushing for the G20 to strengthen unity and cooperation, and working together to combat global economic and development challenges," she added.
The Group of 20 major economies consists of 19 countries and the European Union, making up about 85 percent of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population. India is all geared up to hold the mega diplomatic event that will take place in New Delhi from September 8-10.
The G20 summit had been anticipated as a potential platform for a meeting between Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, with the possibility of bilateral talks between the Chinese President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also on the agenda.
On Sunday, Biden said that he is looking forward to his trip to India this week but is disappointed that his Chinese counterpart will not attend the summit. “I am disappointed, but I am going to get to see him," he said in response
As per internal sources, last week's India’s hard talk on border issues is one of the major reasons Xi Jinping is unlikely to attend the G20 Summit in India. They said that the Chinese President could be trying to avoid a bilateral meeting with PM Modi.
During the brief interaction with Xi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa last month, PM Modi had categorically asked the Chinese leader to clarify his position on the border dispute.
Government sources said a visit to India for the G20 Summit without holding a bilateral meeting with the host nation would have proven to be a diplomatic disaster for Xi Jinping, which is why he may skip the crucial gathering altogether.