Absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping at G20 Summit in India Reflects Strained Bilateral Relations

by Ryan Lee
Geopolitical Relations

In light of ongoing tensions between China and India, Chinese President Xi Jinping has opted not to attend the upcoming G20 summit hosted in India. Instead, China’s Premier Li Qiang will be the nation’s representative at the event scheduled for September 9-10, as confirmed by a brief statement from China’s Foreign Ministry.

The relationship between China and India has been fraught due to longstanding territorial disputes, most notably over their shared border. Three years prior, a military confrontation in the Ladakh region resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, subsequently escalating into a protracted standoff. Both nations have maintained heavy military presence in the disputed region, complete with artillery, tanks, and fighter jets.

The tensions are not confined to territorial issues; they extend to trade imbalances and India’s strengthening strategic alliance with China’s principal competitor, the United States. Both nations have reciprocally expelled journalists, further exacerbating diplomatic relations.

India has recently surpassed China to become the world’s most populous country, intensifying their rivalry in technology, space exploration, and global commerce. Despite these hostilities, military commanders from both nations convened last month, vowing to preserve “peace and tranquility” along the contentious border, signaling a possible attempt to stabilize the situation.

The disputed border, known as the Line of Actual Control, delineates the territories administered by China and India, stretching from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh—a region claimed wholly by China. The two nations engaged in a border war in 1962, and the actual length of the de facto border is a subject of dispute between them.

Adding complexity to the situation, China claims approximately 90,000 square kilometers of territory in India’s northeastern regions, including Arunachal Pradesh. Conversely, India contends that China occupies 38,000 square kilometers of its land in the Aksai Chin Plateau, which India regards as part of Ladakh, where the current standoff is located.

Simultaneously, China has been solidifying its relationship with Pakistan, India’s archenemy, even supporting Pakistan on the disputed issue of Kashmir.

Although protocols to avoid armed confrontations have been instituted since further military skirmishes in 1967 and 1975, these agreements have been strained in recent times.

Moreover, Xi Jinping’s absence from the summit not only has implications for Sino-Indian relations but also eliminates the chance for a direct interaction with U.S. President Joe Biden at a time when China-U.S. relations are notably fraught, despite recent diplomatic visits.

Domestically, Xi Jinping has amassed unprecedented power, rivaled only by Mao Zedong in China’s modern history. He has taken an assertive stance on China’s territorial interests, notably in the South China Sea and towards Taiwan, which China has threatened to forcibly annex if deemed necessary.

In economic terms, China is grappling with the consequences of its stringent measures to contain COVID-19. These policies have resulted in foreign businesses facing increasing challenges in investing and trading with the country.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Geopolitical Relations

Why is Chinese President Xi Jinping skipping the G20 summit in India?

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s absence from the G20 summit in India is likely due to strained bilateral relations and ongoing tensions between China and India, particularly regarding territorial disputes and geopolitical conflicts.

Who will represent China at the G20 summit in India?

Premier Li Qiang will represent China at the G20 summit in India, as confirmed by a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

What are the main points of contention between China and India?

The primary points of contention include the disputed border regions, past military clashes, trade imbalances, and India’s strengthening ties with the United States.

What has been the historical backdrop of China-India relations?

The history includes a border war in 1962, subsequent skirmishes, and recent confrontations. Both nations maintain a heavy military presence along the disputed border.

How have recent diplomatic efforts aimed to stabilize the situation?

Chinese and Indian military commanders met recently and pledged to “maintain peace and tranquility” along the disputed border, indicating efforts to de-escalate tensions.

What are the implications of Xi Jinping’s absence for China-U.S. relations?

Xi’s absence eliminates the possibility of a direct interaction with U.S. President Joe Biden at a time when China-U.S. relations are strained.

How has Xi Jinping approached territorial interests and international relations?

Xi Jinping has adopted an assertive approach to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and towards Taiwan. His leadership style is characterized by a proactive stance on global matters.

What are the economic challenges faced by China?

China is grappling with the economic aftermath of its stringent COVID-19 containment measures, leading to difficulties for foreign businesses investing and trading in the country.

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HistoryBuff82 September 4, 2023 - 6:02 pm

Xi ain’t the first big shot in China, but he’s flexin’ power like Mao. All about that territory and assertive moves.

PoliticAficionado September 4, 2023 - 10:07 pm

China-India beef ain’t no BBQ party, it’s all about land and war history. And now Xi skips G20, U.S. ain’t thrilled either.


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