G20 Summit Heats Up: As Xi Jinping Drops Out, Top US Official Says 'If China Wants To Be A Spoiler, It's Up To Them'

Bhuvan Krishna

Sep 06, 2023, 12:03 PM | Updated 12:05 PM IST

Joe Biden (left) and Xi Jinping (Representative Image).
Joe Biden (left) and Xi Jinping (Representative Image).

A top US official has stated that China has the power to decide its role at the G20 Summit in New Delhi. The official emphasised that if Beijing wants to disrupt the proceedings, it has the option to do so.

During a White House press conference, US National Security Advisor Sullivan was asked about the impact of the India-China border tensions on the G20 Summit.

He said "As far as the question of tensions between India and China affecting the (G20) summit - really that's up to China. If China wants to come in and play the role of spoiler, of course, that option is available to them."

Sullivan expressed hope that India, as the Chair of the G20 Summit, would encourage China to approach the summit in a constructive manner.

He also highlighted the importance of focusing on issues such as climate change, multilateral development, bank reform, debt relief, and technology, while setting aside geopolitical disputes. The goal is to prioritise problem-solving and delivering positive outcomes for developing countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be attending the G20 Summit in New Delhi this week.

Instead, Premier Li Qiang will lead the delegation on behalf of China. The Chinese foreign ministry expressed their willingness to collaborate with all parties to ensure the success of this important meeting. Premier Li has been invited by the Government of India to attend the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi on 9 and 10 September.

This announcement was made by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning in a brief statement.

The annual G20 Summit will be hosted by India in New Delhi on 9 and 10 September. This event brings together leaders from the world's major economies to discuss global issues and promote cooperation.

According to Sullivan, during the G20 Summit, President Joe Biden will emphasise the United States' expectation of tangible progress.

He further said "He will be clear that we need all G20 members to be constructive and at the table, with no exceptions. We'll also be making progress on other key priorities, from climate to health to digital technology, including commitments, with respect to a more inclusive digital transformation and a responsible path and approach to AI development."

The US NSA added "In addition, we'll spotlight the progress that we've been making on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment, or what we call PGI. We'll have some announcements that we're excited about. Now, we know that there will be continued focus on how the G20 deals with Russia's illegal and ongoing war in Ukraine."

He also emphasised the devastating social and economic consequences of Russia's illegal war are a reality which cannot be ignored. The poorest countries are the ones suffering the most from the consequences of this conflict.

President Biden will once again emphasise the need for a just and lasting peace, based on respect for international law, the principles of the UN Charter, and the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty. Biden will continue to stress that the United States will support Ukraine until these principles are upheld, according to Sullivan.

Asia Society Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel stated that the main reason for Xi's absence and the strained relationship between Delhi and Beijing remains uncertain.

However, the lack of an explanation suggests that Xi Jinping may be snubbing Modi, indicating the troubled state of PRC-Indian relations.

It is unclear why Xi Jinping is keeping Biden at arm's length, but Beijing's signals suggest that this is a tactic to pressure Washington into making concessions.

These concessions could include easing export restrictions on advanced semiconductors and equipment.

Interestingly, the absence of Putin and Xi gives Biden the opportunity to dominate the agenda and the airwaves.

He is likely to push for stronger measures against Russia, advocate for a clean energy transition, and propose measures to address the crushing debt faced by developing nations - a significant portion of which is held by China.

Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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