Chinese officials have reported that President Xi Jinping is not planning to attend the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, on September 9-10, 2023. Instead, Premier Li Chiang is expected to attend the summit. The fact that Xi, who has personally attended all G20 summits since he took office in 2013, did not attend the summit in India this time is a remarkable development in terms of regional and global balances. Indeed, China has so far viewed the G20 summits as an important opportunity to increase its global economic influence.
Xi’s decision not to attend the summit is interpreted as a clear sign that China still sees India as a major rival. In other words, it is claimed that China does not want India to gain geopolitical supremacy in regional and global competition. Xi’s absence from the summit will undoubtedly cast a shadow over New Delhi’s success at the G20. Analysts state that in this respect, China is making a move that will hinder India’s success.
However, on August 22-24, 2023, Xi met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa and had the opportunity to discuss bilateral border disputes. At this summit, member states also agreed on the expansion of BRICS. Also during this period, the 19th round of border talks between India and China took place. Therefore, there may be other reasons why Xi will not attend the summit in India. It is likely that this is a step taken by Beijing against the G20, which is dominated by Western countries.
The success of India, a Western democracy, as the G20 chair will cast a shadow on the success of platforms like BRICS, which China is trying to develop on the axis of multipolarity. China, which wants to see India on its side in the global balance of power, will probably be skeptical about the success of the G20.
On the sidelines of the G20 summit held in Bali in November last year under the Indonesian presidency, Xi met with a number of Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden. Therefore, by not attending the G20 Summit this year, Xi is in fact eliminating the opportunity to meet with Western leaders. In other words, China may want to “show that it has no more issues to discuss with the West since last year, that it has already made its choice regarding the global system and that it is moving forward with actors like Russia and India in building multipolarity”. Likewise, the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit could be another indication that Moscow and Beijing are working together against the West.
At the G20 summits, Western countries have so far tried to put pressure on Russia and China on a range of issues such as the war in Ukraine, climate change and human rights. Moscow and Beijing, forced to constantly discuss their disagreements in these forums, have reduced their interest in the G20 Summit as a way out of this besieged situation. For example, at this year’s G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting, host India tried to persuade Russia and China to sign a joint statement on the war in Ukraine. Despite India’s efforts, Russia and China blocked the signing of a joint final declaration. A similar situation occurred in the final declaration of last year’s summit in Bali, where the phrase “excluding China and Russia” was inserted as a solution. This year too, India tried to convince China and Russia to sign the joint text to avoid a similar situation. In this context, India aims to prove its credibility and power to the world by bringing Russia and China together in the framework of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September against the wishes of the West. Moscow and Beijing, however, did not allow New Delhi to gain such prestige.
In this context, the Chinese are known to be tough negotiators in the G20 negotiations, especially on a range of issues from health to climate change. In the field of diplomacy, it can be said that China is a difficult actor to convince and in this respect, it has gained an advantage even against Russia. Known as a strong negotiator, China also seems to be conducting a successful diplomacy against India. This is because India will probably call for Ukraine’s territorial integrity at the G20 Leaders Summit and will also give messages on Kashmir. Russia and China are not willing to fall into this trap of India, which is preparing to give territorial integrity messages on Ukraine and Kashmir.
New Delhi may want to include an article on Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the final declaration of the G20 Summit and get China to accept it. In this way, India could use this as evidence against China in the border disputes in Kashmir. Aware of this, Beijing will not want to be part of any declaration on territorial integrity issues, including the Ukraine issue. In short, while India is preparing to use the Russia-Ukraine war as a political tool for its own interests, China is already showing that it will not play along.
 “Xi Jinping to Skip G20 Summit in India, Western Officials Say”, FT, https://www.ft.com/content/7b558be4-39ac-486e-abed-fc1274f80856, (Date of Accession: 01.09.2023).
 “Xi Jinping Set to Skip India’s G20 Summit İn Blow to Hopes for Consensus”, Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk/asia/india/g20-summit-in-india-xi-jinping-b2402452.html, (Date of Accession: 01.09.2023).
 “China’s Xi Has Met with More Than 25 World Leaders Since Consolidating Power at Home”, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/06/chinas-xi-has-met-with-more-than-25-world-leaders-in-about-a-month.html, (Date of Accession: 01.09.2023).
 “India Pushes Russia, China on G-20 Consensus on War Wording”, Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-01/india-pushes-russia-china-to-join-g-20-consensus-on-war-wording?srnd=asia-politics#xj4y7vzkg, (Date of Accession: 01.09.2023).