China President, Xi Jinping, is likely to skip the G20 leaders summit scheduled to hold in India next week.
Two Indian officials, one diplomat based in China and one official working for the government of another G20 country told Reuters that Premiere Li Qiang is expected to represent Beijing at the September 9 and 10 meeting in New Delhi, India.
Li is also likely to attend a summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia between September 5 and 7, according to a report from Kyodo.
The summit in India had been viewed as a venue at which Xi may meet with United States President, Joe Biden, who has confirmed his attendance, as the two superpowers seek to stabilise relations soured by a range of trade and geopolitical tensions.
Xi last met Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will not be travelling to New Delhi and will send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as his representative.
One senior government official from host India told Reuters 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 on the matter.
Another upcoming summit mooted for face-to-face talks between the two leaders is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in San Francisco between November 12 and 18.
Xi, who secured a precedent-breaking third term as president last October, has made few overseas trips since China abruptly dropped strict pandemic-induced border controls this year.
He did, however, attend a meeting from leaders of the BRICS group of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in South Africa last week.