Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to not attend the G-20 summit in New Delhi has raised eyebrows, with Premier Li Qiang set to represent China at the global event on September 9-10. Amidst growing tensions between India and China, this move has fueled speculation about the reasons behind President Xi’s absence.
Sources indicate that Premier Li Qiang will travel to New Delhi directly after attending the 43rd ASEAN summit in Jakarta from September 5-7. While flight plans for the VVIP aircraft have been submitted, official confirmation is still pending from the Ministry of External Affairs.
The Indian government has not disclosed the specific reasons for President Xi’s decision to skip the G-20 summit. However, the recent release of a controversial “standard map” by China, which includes territorial claims over parts of Aksai Chin and all of Arunachal Pradesh, has strained relations between the two nations.
China has been publishing this standard map annually, but this year’s map release prompted a strong protest from India, rejecting China’s territorial claims. This move has led to speculation regarding the timing of President Xi’s absence from the G-20 summit.
During the recent BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a brief interaction with President Xi Jinping, expressing deep concern over the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China reportedly sought a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit to normalize relations, but due to PM Modi’s schedule constraints, the meeting did not occur.
PM Modi’s response to President Xi’s desire for normalization hinged on the withdrawal of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces from Aksai Chin and the restoration of Indian Army’s patrolling rights in certain regions. China’s recent map release ahead of the G-20 summit could be seen as a signal that it views India as an adversary and intends to exert pressure.
China’s move may indicate its intention to maintain military pressure along the 3488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) and to leverage its alliance with Pakistan to exert pressure on India’s western borders. This development reflects a complex geopolitical landscape as global powers like India, China, the United States, and the Quad alliance navigate their relationships.