Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's firm stance on the border issue during his meeting with Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in South Africa late last month, the Chinese leader has opted to skip the G20 summit in New Delhi later this month, reports say.
While this decision may be perceived as a direct consequence of escalating tensions along the border, some analysts view it as yet another calculated move to undermine India's presidency of the G20 forum.
Throughout India's tenure as the G20 chair, China has persistently worked to obstruct and challenge its leadership within the forum. This opposition from China has extended beyond issues such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict, climate change, or energy policies.
China has cast a wide net of objections, even targeting progressive initiatives such as Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment), women-led development, support for Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), and India's overarching G20 presidency slogan, "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam."
This obstructive stance exhibited at various ministerial meetings has posed a substantial obstacle to achieving consensus within the G20. Nevertheless, Indian officials have diligently strived to bridge gaps and narrow differences on most substantive issues.
China's position in these matters has become a topic of extensive discussion within diplomatic circles, set against the backdrop of the prolonged border conflict that has strained relations between the two nations over the past three years.
An ambassador, shedding light on the situation, remarked, "It's often been a ping-pong game between India and China, and the G7 members are looking at the two sides, trying to figure out what's happening in the room."
Additionally, the issue of loan restructuring for vulnerable countries has also witnessed disparities in China's stance, given its substantial financial exposure to countries in Africa and Asia. These nations have been grappling with a formidable burden of debt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A representative from an international agency, who participated in several meetings, noted that some of China's objections appeared to be strategically motivated to thwart progress and prevent India from claiming success during its presidency.
India had previously played a pivotal role in securing consensus at the Bali leaders' summit the previous year, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's message that "this is not an era of war" had been instrumental in reaching a conclusive declaration. The optimism surrounding the "Bali spirit" was anticipated to continue into India's presidency; however, officials have lamented that China's position has cast a pall over the overall atmosphere.
China has consistently aligned itself with Russia to block the issuance of a joint communique at the conclusion of each meeting, a result of direct conflict with the G7 nations, led by the United States.
This conflict has arisen primarily due to the US' insistence on including references to the Ukraine war within the statement, forming the crux of the dispute between the two blocs.
This discord has spilled over in recent days as sherpas (envoys of the leaders) convened in Manesar to deliberate on critical issues encompassing geopolitics, energy transition, and climate change. This meeting represents a last-ditch effort to forge a consensus amidst escalating tensions.
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