Following several days of widespread reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to skip this week’s G20 summit in India, President Biden has voiced that he's disappointed" Xi won't be there.
"I am disappointed, but I am going to see him," Biden responded to reporters Sunday during a trip to Delaware when asked about Xi's likely absence at the annual major summit among leader's of the globe's top economies.
Biden did not speculate or offer any timeline on when he might meet with Xi in the future. After the reports of Xi's expected absence, Biden's words mark the highest level confirmation from a G20 country leader that the Chinese leader won't be in attendance.
Last Friday, China's foreign ministry once again lashed out over what it says has created the climate of current tensions and rivalry. "It accused the US of comprehensively 'containing' China through wars of tariffs, trade, tech, chips and rules," noted South China Morning Post.
"What the US is doing is not competition but enforcing its zero-sum cold war mindset," FM spokesman Wang Wenbin said. "China strongly opposes the suppression of the US in the name of competition, which will only push two countries towards confrontations and divide the world with the new cold war."
Still, Biden officials are sounding a note of optimism hat things won't spiral further, at a moment of tit-for-tat export controls, particularly impacting technology:
Washington’s repeated calls for "de-risking, not decoupling" from China’s economy, has been a hard sell to Chinese leaders, analysts say after the two countries set up a mechanism this week to assess how they can jointly tackle sensitive trade and tech curbs in the coming months.
Hailing her "productive" China trip that marked "an important beginning" in managing bilateral tensions, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo relayed the message once again to her Chinese counterparts this week that the US does not seek to decouple, nor does it intend to hold back China’s economy.
Crucially, Xi hasn't missed an in-person G20 summit since he became president in 2013. FT has cited Zhang Baohui, professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong to point out that he "never missed a G20 meeting before because it’s a vital occasion for China to try to shape the global narrative."
Connect the Dots— Lawrence McDonald (@Convertbond) September 4, 2023
A. "Xi Jinping dominates Brics summit in S. Africa as leaders endorse a Beijing-led expansion."
B. "Xi to skip G20 summit in India, China to send Li instead."
"G20 offers China that platform to outcompete the American messages," Zhang added. Instead, Premier Li Qiang will represent China at the Indian capital where other heads of state will gather, including US President Joe Biden.
This is already being anticipated as a major setback for a summit beset by unity problems and is a deeply symbolic snub given Xi's prominence at the BRICS summit in South Africa within a mere two weeks ago.