US NSA Jake Sullivan asserts China’s role at G20 Summit is its decision; warns of ‘spoiler’ option
It is for China to decide what role it plays at the G20 Summit in New Delhi, a top US official has said, asserting that if Beijing wants to come in and be a “spoiler“, that option is available to it. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was responding to a question at a White House news conference on Tuesday on the impact of India-China border tensions on the G20 Summit.
“As far as the question of tensions between India and China affecting the (G20) summit – really that’s up to China. If China wants to come in and play the role of spoiler, of course, that option is available to them,” he said in Washinton.
“What I think the Chair, India, will encourage them to do what we, the United States and every other member, virtually every other member of the G20 will do, is encourage them to come in, in a constructive way on climate, on multilateral development, bank reform, on debt relief, on technology and set aside the geopolitical questions and really focus on problem-solving and delivering for the developing countries,” Sullivan said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will not attend the G20 Summit in New Delhi this week and the delegation will be led by Premier Li Qiang, China’s foreign ministry announced on Monday as it expressed Beijing’s readiness to work with all parties to make the high-profile meeting a success. China has not given specific reasons behind Xi’s absence at the G20 Summit.
The ties between India and China nosedived following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades. India is hosting the annual G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9 and 10. At the G20 Summit, Sullivan said President Joe Biden will be clear that the United States expects real progress.
“He will be clear that we need all G20 members to be constructive and at the table, with no exceptions. We’ll also be making progress on other key priorities, from climate to health to digital technology, including commitments, with respect to a more inclusive digital transformation and a responsible path and approach to AI development,” he noted.
“In addition, we’ll spotlight the progress that we’ve been making on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment, or what we call PGI. We’ll have some announcements that we’re excited about. Now, we know that there will be continued focus on how the G20 deals with Russia’s illegal and ongoing war in Ukraine,” he said.
Sullivan said the reality is that Russia’s illegal war has devastated social and economic consequences, and the poorest countries on the planet are bearing the brunt of it. As he has done before, President Biden will call for a just and durable peace founded in respect for international law, principles of the UN Charter, the precepts of territorial integrity and sovereignty,“ he said.
Sullivan said Biden will continue to emphasize that the United States will support Ukraine for as long as it takes to redeem these principles. “Last but not least, and this is important, you’ll see that the United States will make it clear that we remain committed to the G20, as a critical forum for all of the major economies of the world to come together for global problem-solving,” he told reporters.
At a moment when the international economy is suffering from historic and overlapping shocks, it is more important than ever to have a working forum with the world’s largest economies to deliver meaningful outcomes, Sullivan said. “So, in a sign of that commitment, the United States is looking forward to hosting the G20 in 2026,” he said.
Asia Society Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel said Xi recently travelled to South Africa to attend a BRICS summit in person. “So, his decision to skip this week’s G-20 in New Delhi is significant,” Russel said. “The tensions between Delhi and Beijing, and the apparent animosity between the two leaders, seems the likeliest explanation — but we do not know. Not even offering an alibi makes it look like Xi Jinping is snubbing Modi — it points to the troubled state of PRC-Indian relations,” he said.
It is true that the Chinese premier will substitute, but Li lacks the stature of past Chinese prime ministers like Zhu Rongji who wielded significant decision-making on economic matters, he added. “Xi Jinping’s rationale is less clear, but the signalling from Beijing suggests that he is keeping Biden at arm’s length — and making no commitment to attend the November APEC Summit in San Francisco — in an attempt to pressure Washington into making concessions such as easing export restrictions on advanced semiconductors and equipment,” he said.
“Ironically, the absence of Putin and Xi leaves the field open to Biden to dominate the agenda as well as the airwaves. He can be expected to press for stronger measures against Russia, on clean energy transition, and on measures to deal with crushing debt among developing nations — the vast amount of which is held by China,” Russel said.
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