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China confirms Xi Jinping will skip G-20 meet, Premier Li Qiang to attend

President Xi Jinping will for the first time skip a G-20 summit, with the Chinese Premier and second-ranked leader Li Qiang instead deputed to attend the September 9-10 meet in New Delhi, announced China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday.

No reasons have been given for Mr. Xi skipping the summit, a key annual diplomatic event that China has usually placed special emphasis on, viewing it as an important platform to shape the global order and exert its rising clout.

Jinping recently attended the BRICS summit in South Africa on August 24, when he hailed the decision to expand the grouping. Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not have a formal bilateral meeting in South Africa but held an informal conversation on the sidelines, during which they discussed the as yet unresolved crisis along the Line of Actual Control.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday announced that “at the invitation of India, Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the G-20 summit from September 9 to 10 in India.”

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“China looks forward to the G-20 New Delhi summit reaching a consensus on tackling challenges in the economy and development, conveying confidence to the outside world and promoting shared prosperity and growth,” a spokesperson said.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Mexican President have already regretted being unable to attend the summit. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Mexican Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro Sanchez will attend in their place.

Official sources played down the absence of the three leaders. “In today’s world with so many demands on the leaders’ time, it is not always possible for every leader to attend every summit,” official sources said, in a written response to media reports about the absence of some countries at the Heads of State/Heads of Government levels.

“From time to time, many leaders skip summits for their own reasons… These things do not reflect anything about the host country”, they added in the response, pointing out that at least six leaders did not attend the Rome G-20 summit in 2021.

This week negotiators are meeting for one final push towards a joint statement, which every G-20 summit has so far been able to issue. That might not, however, happen in New Delhi given Russia and China opposing a reference to Ukraine, as well as other differences between developed and developing countries on issues such as climate financing. Chinese officials have also objected to some of India’s additions, including the use of the Sanskrit phrase ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.

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