Evasive Xi: India should cash in on the opportunity - The Tribune India

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Evasive Xi

India should cash in on the opportunity

Evasive Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping. File photo

CHINESE President Xi Jinping is set to miss back-to-back summits in Jakarta and New Delhi. This is intriguing for the leader of a country which is manoeuvring to become the next superpower. Xi is shying away from holding face-to-face meetings that would have helped in addressing or resolving knotty issues. Before the Delhi G20 event, Xi was to visit Jakarta for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where China also needs to douse diplomatic fires. Four ASEAN members have criticised China’s new map for its cartographic encroachment on their maritime zones. Among the four, Malaysia and the Philippines have overlooked ethnic considerations and a weak military position. They have refused to accept Beijing’s homily to India — which was the first to lodge a protest — not to overreact to the map.

There might never be an official explanation for what led Xi to make himself conspicuous by his absence. Admittedly, he would not have garnered the same prominence as at the BRICS summit in South Africa last month. There, his presence was amplified by a special China-Africa summit and the singular honour of a state visit. In South Africa, though, Xi inexplicably skipped an important leaders’ event.

As at ASEAN, Xi would have faced hostile headwinds in the G20 arena. Besides host India, Beijing has bitter trade and geopolitical rivalries with several group members. As China is Russia’s sole, steadfast G20 partner on the Ukraine conflict, Moscow’s cause would have been better served if Xi had been present at the summit. If the need to sidestep hostilities influenced Xi’s decision, India can position itself as the sole, responsible, emerging global power at the summit. As value chains turn away from China, Xi’s absence may well prove to be a win-win situation for PM Modi.

#China #Xi Jinping

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