Chinese premier Li Qiang to attend G20 in India amid reports of Xi Jinping skipping summit

China’s premier Li Qiang will attend the G20 summit on 9-10 September in New Delhi, the country’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

The confirmation comes days after India’s special secretary for G20 said the hosts were awaiting a written confirmation from China on president Xi Jinping’s attendance.

Mr Li’s attendance means that Mr Xi will not attend the meet for the first time since he became president. China hopes the summit can consolidate consensus, convey confidence and promote development, said spokesperson Mao Ning as he sidestepped the question seeking the reason behind Mr Xi’s absence.

The Group of 20 is a major forum for international economic cooperation, to which China has always attached great importance and actively participated in relevant activities, Mr Mao said.

India, which has strained bilateral ties with their northern neighbours, has so far not issued an official statement. Mr Xi is the second leader after Russian president Vladimir Putin to skip the meet.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden expressed his “disappointment” over not being able to meet Mr Xi on the sidelines of the summit.

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

Beijing and New Delhi are facing a tough reconciliation dialogue on a border dispute, spurred by China’s latest map that showed the entire Indian northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory.

Mr Xi and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi recently met at a Brics group meeting last month in South Africa where leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa gathered.

The two held a rare conversation on the sidelines of the meeting in Johannesburg with officials claiming that Mr Modi discussed reducing tensions in the bilateral relationship that soured after clashes along their Himalayan frontier in 2020 left 24 soldiers dead.

A diplomatic row erupted shortly after over which side requested the meeting between the two leaders.

India and China have faced strained ties for many years, with relations plummeting further after the nuclear neighbours were embroiled in a bitter border dispute that began in 2020.