Biden says he is ‘disappointed’ at Xi Jinping skipping India’s G20 summit

Joe Biden said he is “disappointed” his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will be skipping the G20 summit in India.

The comments came a day before the Chinese foreign ministry officially confirmed on Monday that China’s premier Li Qiang will lead the Chinese delegation for the two-day summit, suggesting Mr Xi’s absence at the G20 summit.

The US president, however, said he is “going to get to see him” anyway.

“I am disappointed, but I am going to get to see him,” Mr Biden told reporters on Sunday in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when asked about Mr Xi’s absence.

Mr Biden is scheduled to reach India on Thursday to attend the G20 summit alongside the leaders of two dozen countries of the grouping. This will be followed by a trip to Vietnam as his administration seeks to strengthen US relations in Asia.

“I want a little more... coordination. I think they both (India and Vietnam) want much closer relations with the United States and that can be very helpful,” Mr Biden said.

He will also hold a bilateral meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, the White House announced.

“While in New Delhi, the President will also commend Prime Minister Modi’s leadership of the G20 and reaffirm the US commitment to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation, including by hosting it in 2026,” read the statement.

The White House said Mr Biden will discuss “the economic and social impacts of Putin’s war in Ukraine” among other global issues amid Indian officials’ reluctance to discuss the Ukraine conflict, an issue threatening to overshadow the summit.

India, which has taken a neutral stance in Russia’s war on Ukraine war by calling for diplomacy and dialogue, has maintained close relations with the US and its allies.

In a show of their growing partnership, Mr Biden rolled out the red carpet for Mr Modi at the White House in June, with secretary of state Anthony Blinken lauding India-US relations as “boundless”.

Washington is courting Delhi to counter China, despite India taking advantage of large amounts of cheap energy imports and weapons supplies from Moscow.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Nao Ming said at a regular press briefing in Beijing that China hoped India is able to consolidate a consensus at the summit.

“Li Qiang will lead the representatives to attend G20 summit. It’s an important global international forum. China has always attached importance on it and actively participated,” she said.

She appeared to sidestep the question on Mr Xi’s attendance without confirming if the Chinese president will attend the summit remotely. The chances of China’s most senior leaders being physically present simultaneously at a summit outside their home country seem to be remote.

Mr Biden held talks with Mr Xi at the G20 summit last year in Bali under Indonesia’s presidency.

The two will still have a chance to meet in November during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in San Francisco.

Ties between the US and China remain frosty despite a number of diplomatic visits from Washington to China amid spiralling diplomatic and trade issues.

Their relationship remains tense despite a flurry of diplomatic visits from Washington this year to revive dialogue.

The progress in ties following Mr Xi and Mr Biden’s bilateral talks in Bali in November last year was marred by the US president’s order to shoot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon in the skies above the US.

This incident resulted in a significant delay in efforts to initiate dialogue by several months.

The relations have deteriorated over issues that include Russia’s Ukraine invasion, alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, the Taiwan issue and Beijing’s growing presence in the South China Sea.