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Modi (not Xi) leads G-20 summit

Modi (not Xi) leads G-20 summit
Modi (not Xi) leads G-20 summit | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and I. Happy post Labor Day to all of you. I'm in London for a very, very brief trip, but I wanted to talk a little bit about the G-20 summit coming up this weekend.

Big news to start, Xi Jinping is not coming. Why not? Lots of speculation, lots of news, lots of ink being spilled except for the fact that people should have known about this a while back. One, the Indian government had been informed at least a month ago that Xi Jinping wasn't planning on attending. And secondly, the Americans have been working on a meeting with Xi Jinping and Biden for months now at APEC in San Francisco in November, and that was widely expected to be the next time the two men would be in the same place at the same time.

Biden is going to the G-20, in other words, Xi Jinping was not. Now, that certainly means it's not a sudden health issue, not a sudden domestic economic crisis or political crisis that stopping him from going. It's a question of how much of this is Chinese irritation at their relationship with India. India's export controls, investment review and screens against China now are frankly stronger than those from the United States against China, not to mention border disputes. And the Chinese trying to limit some of India's influence and roles in multilateral organizations. It's been fairly chippy. I wouldn't say it's overtly hostile, but it's certainly not friendly. And, you know, Xi Jinping might see that he has little interest in turning up at a G-20 that is going to be in India. And is know sort of Modi's great party. Risks antagonizing Modi more, of course, by doing that.

But again, not a decision that was taken recently. Secondly, the fact that Russia is not attending and really can't attend, given Putin and the ICC ruling against him, the fact that the G-20, the one place that you have not been able to get any coordination at this meeting in any of the ministerial is around Ukraine statement. The Chinese have been aligned this time around more with the Russians on this and really don't want to be front and center with Xi Jinping being the holdout facing pressure from the G-20, from all the other countries to get an agreement done. And Modi would certainly be on the other side of that. So would the Americans, frankly, so would all the other attendees. China doesn't want to be seen in that regard as the only country supporting the Russian position. So then you have the issue of China having the BRICS, and that is a group that they've just had some success with a significant expansion to Middle East and North African states. That will happen at the beginning of 2024. It's a meeting that China has a lot more sway over. It is China as by far the largest economy and then the Global South as opposed to the G-20, which is everybody that matters and China certainly not feeling in charge of anything. So in that regard, Xi Jinping has a structural reason to make the G20 less important and make the BRICS summit more important going forward.

I'm particularly interested in how they play that with Russia chairing the BRICS next year and how many of the other BRICS invitees show up at the head of state level. It's going to be, I mean, quite something when you've got, say, the Saudis and the Emiratis and the Brazilians all showing up in Russia for a BRICS summit. I think a lot of them are going to be looking for cover and maybe hoping that one or two say no so that they can say no to. But that's kind of where we are. The G-20 itself should be quite successful. I don't think that it's going to be meaningfully different in terms of Modi's ability to show that he's doing well on the back of Xi not showing up, in part because, of course China's having so many economic challenges at home. While this is really India's year, Modi with very strong popularity inside India, strongest economic growth of any major economy in the world, and moving, driving a more assertive climate policy, a more assertive technology reform policy, and, you know, looking pretty strong in the run up to 2024 India elections.

So at this point, especially with Modi having talked with over 100 leaders in preparation to the G-20 summit and seeing a lot of irritation with the United States on the back of unilateralism, America firstism and questions of where the US is going post 2024. A lot of Belt and Road countries feeling like they're not getting the kind of support they have historically from the Chinese. This is a big opportunity and India with some role to fill and they've historically not wanting to be a big geopolitical player, especially outside of the region, that is changing a lot under Modi.

So we're watching that all weekend and I hope everyone's doing well. Talk to you soon. Bye.


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