Chinese language President Xi Jinping is not going to attend the G-20 Summit in India this weekend, marking the primary time Xi has missed the occasion since taking workplace in 2013 (though he did attend the 2021 model just about, attributable to China’s pandemic restrictions).
Thus far this yr, Xi has solely traveled abroad twice – to Russia in March to fulfill with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to South Africa in August to attend the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. It’s clear that sustaining good relations with growing nations stays the precedence of Chinese language international coverage at present. And going through a hostile U.S.-led West, it appears crucial for China to maintain shut ties with Russia.
A number of components might have contributed to Xi’s determination to skip the G-20 Summit, hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: ongoing tensions between China and India over their disputed border could have made Xi doubt the heat of his welcome in Delhi; he could want to keep away from embarrassing questions on a controversial new Chinese map or the troubled Chinese language economic system; or he could not need to be round a gaggle of unfriendly international leaders, particularly within the absence of Putin, which means Xi must take care of Western leaders alone.
However essentially the most possible motive is the Chinese language perception that Washington has not proven ample sincerity for a gathering with U.S. President Joe Biden throughout the G-20 summit. Biden and Xi famously had their first in-person assembly on the sidelines of the final G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. All latest exchanges between Chinese language and U.S. officers have pointedly referenced the “important common understandings” reached throughout the Bali assembly.
But the Biden administration has continued to rally help from allies and associates to counter China regardless of its repeated declare that america shouldn’t be searching for confrontation with China. The latest Japan-South Korea-U.S. summit at Camp David, joint navy workouts between america and its allies within the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea, the U.S. navy’s proposed new port within the Philippines going through Taiwan, and Biden’s go to to Vietnam after the G-20 summit are among the newest proof, in Beijing’s view, of U.S. efforts to encircle China.
Beijing is most alarmed by Washington’s latest stepped-up navy help and help for Taiwan, together with the Biden administration’s approval in August of a navy switch to Taiwan underneath the International Army Financing program usually used for sovereign states. In July, the Biden administration despatched Taiwan a $345 million bundle of weapons drawn from U.S. stockpiles, marking the primary time america despatched gear to Taiwan utilizing the presidential drawdown authority. Congress licensed about $1 billion for presidential drawdown packages for Taiwan within the annual protection invoice for the 2023 fiscal yr.
Washington has drastically beefed up Taiwan’s navy preparedness in recent times with out doing a lot to advertise dialogue throughout the Taiwan Strait. Because it arms Taiwan, america continues to say that its “One China” coverage stays unchanged. There is no such thing as a mutual belief between Beijing and Washington, regardless of their intentions to stop the connection from additional deteriorating.
It’s attention-grabbing to notice that whereas Xi appears to be shunning Western leaders outdoors China, Western officers and leaders are flocking to China these days. Since June this yr, 4 senior officers from the Biden administration have visited China – Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Local weather Change Envoy John Kerry, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Prior to now week or so, Canada’s Atmosphere Minister Steven Guilbeault, British International Secretary James Cleverly, and Italian International Minister Antonio Tajani visited Beijing. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, amongst others, are believed to be planning their journeys to China later this yr.
Xi’s absence from the G-20 summit is a misplaced alternative for China to enhance relations with the West and to work with others to deal with frequent challenges, from the World Financial institution reform to local weather change. The Chinese language authorities has each motive to be sad with the “lack of sincerity” on the a part of the Biden administration. Nonetheless, precisely due to troublesome issues between China and america and its allies, face-to-face dialogues are wanted in order that leaders can handle these issues candidly and constructively.
Now that Xi has skipped the G-20 Summit, will he go to San Francisco for the APEC Summit in November? Xi up to now has an ideal file of attending APEC gatherings, together with the 2 digital summits in 2020 and 2021. Will he break that streak reasonably than journey to america?
At this level, it’s unsure. A lot depends upon what occurs within the subsequent few months and whether or not america and China can rebuild some belief. If each side proceed their present approaches and don’t work to create a conducive environment, it’s probably that Xi could skip the APEC Summit as properly.
Biden, who was disappointed at Xi’s absence from the G-20 Summit, can assist make Xi’s determination simpler if he really needs the Chinese language chief to attend. Even symbolic gestures from the Biden administration, similar to lifting some sanctions in opposition to Chinese language companies and people and reaffirming the U.S. coverage of not supporting Taiwan independence, will assist ameliorate the scenario and provides Xi some incentives to attend the APEC Summit in November.