G 20 Summit, A Diplomatic Test for Li Qiang, Arrive in India in place of Xi Jinping
Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrived in New Delhi, India, to attend the G20 Summit, marking his first significant international diplomatic test. The G20 has its own unique challenges because of its increased prominence and the presence of Western leaders who are critical of China, particularly in light of its stance on the Ukraine situation. Li Qiang visited the East Asia Summit in Jakarta earlier this week.
For the first time in the G20’s history, this situation poses a threat to derail a joint communiqué. He arrives in India at a very low point in the India-China Relationship. Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Li will have the chance for casual exchanges on the sidelines of the G-20, officials from both sides said no plans had been made for a formal bilateral meeting as of Friday evening. Since Mr. Li, unlike previous Premiers like Wen Jiabao, solely handles economic affairs, and since the office of the Premier has been considerably reduced under Mr. Xi’s one-man rule, substantive conversations on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) situation seem doubtful.
Questions have been raised regarding President Xi Jinping’s absence at the summit. Although there was no official explanation given for his absence, some observers believe that it was an attempt to defuse tensions with the West and a show of China’s unhappiness with the West in the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reports have also suggested that President Xi’s decision to stay home may have been influenced by domestic political concerns, particularly economic difficulties.
Ma Jia, the charge d’affaires and acting envoy in the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, called on both nations “to restore development as the centrepiece on the international agenda” in a speech prior to his arrival. Beijing has refused to appoint a permanent ambassador for as long as 11 months without providing any explanation.
Ma also said that the relationship between China and India is currently stable overall. She emphasized that in the previous year, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi had two face-to-face meetings that set the tone and course for efforts to enhance and stabilize bilateral relations. She also mentioned that continuing contact through diplomatic and military channels has kept the situation at the border between the two nations steady.
According to Liu Hong, vice president and senior fellow at the Centre for China and Globalization (CCG) in Beijing, a particular outcome China is hoping for from the visit is a relaxation of limitations on investment into India.
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