Is the G20 in trouble?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 4, 2023
Xi no-show and several other headaches for host India
Photo by Adarsh Kumar Singh on Unsplash

President Xi Jinping is skipping the Group of 20 nations summit in India this coming weekend and it feels like a snub to China’s giant neighbour as well as a cocky, very bad boy gesture at several other attendees.

With India, China is arguing over disputed territory, yet again. Just days ago, Beijing released a map that showed India’s northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state and the disputed Aksai Chin plateau as Chinese territory. India protested, upon which China basically told it to take a chill play by refraining from “over-interpreting” the issue.

With Japan, China is having words over the August 24 release into the sea of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Even though scientists largely say China should take a chill pill because the impact will be negligible, Beijing has continued to be fairly agitated about the fears and suspicions swirling around even as a consistent campaign pumps out (dis)information about the release of waste water.

With the US, China is arguing over pretty much everything from Beijing’s access to core future technologies and the status of Taiwan.

As analysts point out, Mr Xi’s approach to the G20 summit seems much different than at the last one in Bali, Indonesia, some 10 months ago. Back then, he said it was the job of a global statesman to “get along with other countries.”

Now, he seems to care little or not at all about annoying everyone else.

But India’s headaches as host of the G20 summit go beyond China’s recalcitrance. Might the compromise reached in Bali over the language to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine hold this year? If not, the G20 – which is made up of most of the world’s largest economies and counts the US and European Union within its  ranks – may be unable to put out a joint communique for the first time since its founding in 1999. Quelle horreur!