NEW DELHI: Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to skip a summit of G20 leaders in India next week, sources familiar with the matter in India and China said.
Two Indian officials, one diplomat based in China and one official working for the government of another G20 country, said Premier Li Qiang is expected to represent Beijing at the Sept 9-10 meeting in New Delhi.
Spokespersons for the Indian and Chinese foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
Li is also likely to attend a summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sept 5-7, according to a report from Kyodo.
The summit in India had been viewed as a venue at which Xi may meet with US President Joe Biden, who has confirmed his attendance, as the two superpowers seek to stabilise relations. Xi last met Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will not be travelling to New Delhi and will send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.
One senior government official from host India said that “we are aware that the premier will come, in place of Xi”.
In China, two foreign diplomats and a government official from another G20 country said that Xi will likely not be travelling for the summit.
Two of these three sources in China said they were informed by Chinese officials, but they were not aware of the reason for Xi’s expected absence. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Anticipation of a meeting between Xi and Biden has been fuelled by a stream of top US officials visiting Beijing in recent months, including a trip by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this week.
Another upcoming summit mooted for face-to-face talks between the two leaders is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in San Francisco on Nov 12 to 18.