Premier Li Qiang to Represent China as Bilateral Relations with India Remain Frosty

In a surprising turn of events, Chinese President Xi Jinping will not attend this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit in India, with Premier Li Qiang set to represent China at the September 9-10 gathering. The Chinese Foreign Ministry made this announcement through a concise one-sentence notice on its official website.

Strained Relations: Power Struggles Define China-India Relations

The decision comes against increasingly strained relations between China and India, primarily stemming from the ongoing territorial dispute along their shared border. Notably, three years ago, this friction erupted into a deadly clash in the Ladakh region, resulting in the loss of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers. Since then, a prolonged standoff has persisted in this rugged mountainous area, with both sides deploying substantial military forces, including artillery, tanks, and fighter jets.

Tensions between the two Asian giants have not been confined to territorial disputes alone. Friction has also escalated concerning trade matters and India’s burgeoning strategic alliance with China’s primary global rival, the United States. This rivalry has even led to the expulsion of each other’s journalists.

India’s recent emergence as the world’s most populous nation has added another layer of competition to this complex relationship. The two countries are vying for dominance in technology, space exploration, and global trade.

Why Xi Won’t Attend: An Unanswered Question

When asked about President Xi’s absence at the G20 summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning declined to provide a specific reason but emphasized China’s commitment to international economic cooperation through the G20. Mao stated:

“Premier Li Qiang will elaborate on China’s views and propositions on G20 cooperation, promote the G20 to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and work together to address global economic and development challenges.”

Mao further expressed China’s readiness to collaborate with all parties to ensure the success of the G20 summit and contribute positively to the global economic recovery and sustainable development.