On 04 September the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a notification stating that the G-20 Summit meet to be held in New Delhi (September 9-10) will be attended by a team led by the country’s premier, Li Qiang. This will be the first G-20 Summit since 2008 which is not being attended by China’s head of state. Also skipping the Summit is President of Russia who did not show up at the recently concluded BRICS Summit in South Africa either. India’s Foreign Minister has categorized this development as “not-unusual” and with analyst’s pin-pointing this development as a snub to India which is embroiled in territorial disputes with China, the Foreign Minister stated, “I don’t think this is anything to do with India, whatever decisions they take they would know best”.
…China who believe that G-20 grouping which is dominated by the West is of lesser importance than groupings dominated by Russia and China such as SCO and BRICS…
As on September 07, President Xi was visiting flood-affected villagers in the city of Shangzhi, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province and advocating high-quality development.
Some Chinese experts believe by giving a slip to G-20 Summit at Delhi, China is resisting to confer the growing influence of its southern neighbor which is now officially recognized by China as a country whose economy is now entering its golden period. There are others in China who believe that G-20 grouping which is dominated by the West is of lesser importance than groupings dominated by Russia and China such as SCO and BRICS and hence an absence from G-20 will underscore this aspect symbolically. According to Professor Hemant Adlakha three widely discussed factors related to this development in India are as following;
• Xi is annoyed at India’s attempts to undermine China’s “leadership” role at recently concluded BRICS summit and India snubbing China at New Delhi’s SCO gathering two months ago;
• escalating border tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China;
• and, India being actively drawn into the US-led Western anti-China “alliance” – specifically in the rapidly transforming security architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
The decision to not make it to the G-20 Summit is hardly an India centric matter, and only reflects China’s attitude towards a west dominated grouping such as the G-20 under the present international situation which is hostile towards China both politically and economically.
…many in India hold about Sino-Indian rivalry where in India’s economic rise in coming years is seen as a threat in China is simply misleading.
The Chinese President has met with Prime Minister Modi at BRICS group meeting at Johannesburg and hence not coming to New Delhi involves factors beyond Sino-Indian rivalry. China’s domestic political and economic situation is worsening with unexpected disappearance of top political and military leaders and falling foreign exchange reserves, weakening domestic consumption, banking and real estate sector fragility, and decline in foreign trade and investments.
Yet experts in China believe it is too early to conclude that China’s economy has peaked and will irreversibly slow-down. According to Peterson Institute for International Economics the widely popular assessment that China’s economy is slowing down is likely premature and, at least in part, perhaps simply wrong. It is however true that China’s economy has been severely affected since the outbreak of Covid-19 and has not yet recovered.
In addition to China’s attitude towards a west led G-20 grouping, the assumption that many in India hold about Sino-Indian rivalry where in India’s economic rise in coming years is seen as a threat in China is simply misleading. Even as Indian economy becomes the third largest economy after the US and China within this decade, Indian economy will be relatively much smaller than China. Given the sociology of India and China, it is difficult to predict how different India’s growth story will be in comparison to China.
Some experts opine that India is not the new China, but the emerging superpower could “enjoy some very high growth years,” (Riedel Research Group).Furthermore, China is dismissive about India’s military potential in the event of a conflict along its border and remains concerned with the attitude of the west in beefing up India’s military potential against her. While the India centric causes for President Xi not attending the Summit in New Delhi can be ruled out, n number of reports suggesting domestic political-economic turmoil within China need to be viewed within the social and cultural context of China.
What’s wrong with replacing a country’s foreign minister or committing anti-corruption operations against the top leadership of its rocket forces? – these are signs of a functioning political system and a natural exercise of political authority and when viewed within Chinese political historical perspective – “quite normal”.
The relationship between politics and economics driven by Marxist ideology is the source of conflict within China and this is a manageable problem with appropriate adaptation of its political economy.
China’s current problems emerge from its quest for certain political and economic objectives. China no longer wishes to be dependent on foreign technologies especially high-technology and decoupling in this arena will be painful. Similarly, China does not wish to be dependent on external markets and is pushing for high domestic consumption but this requires societal level changes and hence a time-consuming project. The relationship between politics and economics driven by Marxist ideology is the source of conflict within China and this is a manageable problem with appropriate adaptation of its political economy. China’s rise, its political and economic problems are very different from that of the Challenges India is likely to face during the course of its rise.
Yet, on many global issues India and China share similar if not the same concerns. For example, India too in its attitude is not in sync with the G-20 grouping and has used its tenure as the G-20 President in 2023 to claim its position as the “voice of the global south” and thereby declare G-20 grouping not representing the whole of world economic decision making. Both India and China have put their weight behind including the African Union at G-20.
In conclusion, more than India and China’s own domestic concerns, China’s decision has much to do with G-20 itself which was originally an attempt to salvage western hegemony by establishing an informal mechanism for dialogue among systemically important countries within the framework of the Bretton Woods institutional system (G-7 finance ministers at Köln).
This new international group was launched primarily to address challenges to international financial stability posed by the widening crisis in emerging economies that had begun in Asia in 1997. It is therefore important to question India’s devotion to the G-20 grouping which is being celebrated as carnival and an achievement given that India has not been able to broker a joint statement in any of the key G20 meetings since it took over the presidency last December.
President Xi is busy in his own world to attend the G-20 Summit at Delhi in which more than half the members are unfriendly towards him.
According to Amitabh Kant (G-20 Sherpa), G-20 is seen as far more powerful body than the United Nations whose failure demonstrates that the answer to the alternative model lies in G-20. China on the other looks at G-20 as an informal grouping to discuss matters related to global financial security architecture and not politicized around the geopolitical fault lines. China is currently pursuing its own vision for a new world order through initiatives such as – the Global Security Initiative, the Global Development Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative.
China has pledged 10 billion US dollars to implement the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and believes concrete actions must be taken to empower global south. Furthermore, China wants some developed countries to mend their ways first and notes that to safeguard their privileged interests, these countries have resorted to self-serving measures such as decoupling and bloc confrontation.
The loss, if any, incurred by President Xi by not attending the Summit in New Delhi will be made up for next month when China hosts the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in October in a grand event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. To conclude, President Xi is busy in his own world to attend the G-20 Summit at Delhi in which more than half the members are unfriendly towards him.
 Professor Zhu Feng, dean of International Relations at Nanjing University cited in Hemant Adlakha (2023), “Domestic woes, friction with the US, or to snub India? Behind Xi’s no-show at the G20 summit” Indian Express, 07 September.
 Professor at Renmin or People’s University, Shi Yinhong cited in Hemant Adlakha (2023), “Domestic woes, friction with the US, or to snub India? Behind Xi’s no-show at the G20 summit” Indian Express, 07 September.
Hemant Adlakha (2023), “Domestic woes, friction with the US, or to snub India? Behind Xi’s no-show at the G20 summit” Indian Express, 07 September.
Takshila Discussion Document 2023-12, “Assessing the Chinese Economy”.
Professor Wang Qiu Bin, Hongqiao University, Xiamen, Fujian province.
Nicholas R. Lardy (2023), “How serious is China’s Economic Slowdown” Peterson Institute for International Economics, 17 August. Available at https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economics/how-serious-chinas-economic-slowdown
Lee Ying Shan (2023), “Is India the next China? Analyst says he is ‘very, very bullish’ on one of them” CNBC, 2 July. Available at https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/03/is-india-the-next-china-fund-manager-says-he-prefers-india.html [Accessed on 09 September, 2023].