President Biden told reporters Sunday he was “disappointed” Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly will not attend the upcoming G20 summit scheduled to take place in India this week.
“I am disappointed, but I’m gonna get to see him,” Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, without elaborating.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced on Aug. 22 that Biden will travel to New Delhi, India, from Sept. 7-10 to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
Biden and Xi last met at the prior G20 summit hosted in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.
Washington-Beijing relations have taken a nosedive since then, after a Chinese spy craft traversed the continental United States earlier this year. Biden has sent several diplomats and even Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to China in recent months in an apparent effort to smooth tensions. Yet, the U.S. president had stood by his categorization of Xi as a “dictator” despite Beijing’s outcry, including during a question and answer period alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in June.
Approaching reporters after he attended mass at St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church, the president also said Sunday he was aware of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s video announcement Sunday that he would ask parliament this week to dismiss Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. However, Biden said he had no further comment publicly on the development.
One reporter asked, “What do you want to achieve in India and Vietnam?”
“I want a little more coordination,” Biden responded. “I think they both want closer relations with the United States and that could be very helpful.”
In announcing his travel last month, the White House said Biden and G20 partners “will discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues, including on the clean energy transition and combating climate change, mitigating the economic and social impacts of Putin’s war in Ukraine, and increasing the capacity of multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to better fight poverty, including by addressing global challenges.”
While in New Delhi, Biden “will also commend Prime Minister Modi’s leadership of the G20 and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation, including by hosting it in 2026,” the White House said.
Meanwhile, Xi addressed the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services CIFTIS via video in Beijing Saturday.
Xi is apparently skipping this week’s Group of 20 summit in India as bilateral relations remain icy.
Instead, Premier Li Qiang will represent China at the gathering, the Foreign Ministry said Monday in a brief notice on its website.
Relations between China and India have grown frosty over their disputed border, and three years ago the tensions resulted in a clash in the Ladakh region that killed 20 Indian soldiers. It turned into a long-running standoff in the rugged mountainous area, where each side stationed tens of thousands of military personnel backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets. Frictions have also risen over trade and India’s growing strategic ties with China’s main rival, the United States. Both India and China also have expelled the other’s journalists.
India recently overtook China as the world’s most populous nation, and the two are rivals in technology, space exploration and global trade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.