The reason for the decision remains unclear but there are several speculations as to why the leader of the world’s second largest economy is skipping the meeting which is the world’s premier international forum of world leaders.
However, a diplomat from Beijing who was based in New Delhi told Bloomberg that Xi Jinping has very little interest in taking part in an event which is aimed at strengthening the global image of a rival, which in this case is India.
A separate report by CNN-News18 said it is also an attempt to downgrade the forum but such attempts will only hurt China’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and Argentina, who share warm ties with India and other Asian superpowers like Japan and South Korea.
He could be skipping the meeting to avoid taking responsibility for the actions and troubles on the Indo-China border where his People Liberation Army (PLA) made attempts to alter the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and is dragging its feet on disengagement.
The report by Bloomberg speculated that it could be because China wants to strengthen the newly expanded BRICS forum and go ahead with his agenda of emerging as an alternative to the US-led world order.
Xi could also be worried because of China’s economic troubles as its largest property developers teeter on the brink of default.
Xi Jinping has attended every G20 leaders’ summit since taking power in 2012. This year he tried to push for peace in Ukraine and brokered a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
It was an attempt to appear as a peacemaker but this sudden u-turn with respect to the G20 summit has made him look like his predecessor, Mao Zedong.
The Chinese President has tried to develop a cult of personality like Mao and has imitated him on several occasions but this is the first time he is following the leader in issues related to foreign policy and multilateral forums.
China’s sabre-rattling over Taiwan and support for Moscow as well as North Korean regime is also likely to make him feel uncomfortable if G20 leaders raise these questions while pointing fingers at China’s current economic trajectory during the New Delhi summit.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo last week said that businesses in China told her that the abrupt policy swings is making the nation early “uninvestable”, according to the report by Bloomberg.
It should be noted that Chinese leaders have suffered from the ‘middle kingdom mentality’ or the ‘middle kingdom syndrome’ where China is the single and the most powerful nation on the planet.
It aims to fulfil that vision by encroaching on territories of its neighbours and luring economically backward countries across several continents into its debt trap.
It also believes that the world should come to China and consider it as the leader of the world.
Xi Jinping is attempting to do the same and expects dignitaries to come and meet him.
Alfred Wu, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, told Bloomberg that it is reflected through French President Emmanuel Macron and EU President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visits to China.
“Xi enjoys a very high status when he receives foreign guests at home. He received special treatment at the BRICS summit. But he’s unlikely to get that G20,” Wu was quoted as saying by the news outlet.
However, not only India’s rise but if Xi Jinping would have visited New Delhi, it would have brought him face-to-face with Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – with whom he has launched a diplomatic war over release of treated nuclear wastewater – and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol – whom Xi has angered with his support for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Hence, Xi Jinping, according to former Pentagon official Drew Thompson who spoke to Bloomberg, is now focused on increasing China’s power through multilateral forums like BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where it can dictate the agenda.
Another China expert, Neil Thomas, drew similarities between Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong. He told Bloomberg that the recent ousting of foreign minister, Qin Gang, and skipping a BRICS event where he was supposed to address a business forum, shows Xi following Mao’s footsteps where focus lies on ‘grand visions rather than daily politics’.
Xi is also likely to skip the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in San Francisco in November but he is getting prepared for the Belt and Road Summit in Beijing where he will be joined by Russian President Vladimir Putin.