Premier Li Qiang will represent China at this weekend’s G20 summit in New Delhi, its foreign ministry said in Beijing on Monday. President Xi Jinping‘s absence has put a question mark on Beijing’s sincerity to G20, amid chill in ties with India since the Galwan clashes.

“At the invitation of the government of the Republic of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 summit to be held in New Delhi, India, on September 9 and 10,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Li was elevated as the eighth premier of China in March. He was elevated to the second-ranking member on the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Politburo Standing Committee last October.

ET was the first to report that Xi would skip the G20 summit and depute his premier for the meeting.

China was the only G20 member state that had opposed several Indian G20 initiatives in the past year. Beijing took a divergent view on almost all issues at G20 meetings in the run up to the summit under India’s presidency. Beijing remains intransigent in addressing irritants along the Line of Actual Control in the Ladakh sector.

China had voiced its opposition to the inclusion of the Sanskrit phrase ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ in documents of the G20 energy ministerial meeting and other G20 documents. Beijing has also objected to matters such as Mission LiFE (lifestyle for environment), women-led development, and MSMEs. China reportedly obstructed discussions on tackling climate change at G20 meetings and did not participate at the tourism meet held in Srinagar. A foreign policy observer told ET that China’s obstructionist behaviour signalled that Beijing has reservations against India’s leadership of the Global South.

Xi Jinping had last travelled to India in 2019 for the second edition of the informal India-China summit at Mamallapuram.

Last week India had lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with China on the 2023 ‘standard map’ of China that lays claim to Indian territory. The map, released on August 28, showed Arunachal Pradesh which China claimed was South Tibet and Aksai Chin occupied by it in the 1962 war as part of its territory.

Last month, Modi and Xi held informal discussions on the sidelines of the Brics summit in Johannesburg. Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra had then said that in his conversation with Xi, Modi highlighted India’s concerns on unresolved issues along LAC in the western sector.

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