A security personnel stands guard near the G20 venue in New Delhi on September 4, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

BEIJING: China’s Premier Li Qiang will attend the G20 summit in the Indian capital New Delhi this weekend, a Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Monday.

“At the invitation of the government of the Republic of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 Summit to be held in New Delhi, India on September 9 and 10,” Mao Ning said in a press release.

It has been reported in recent days that President Xi Jinping would not attend the gathering of world leaders, with his American counterpart Joe Biden on Sunday expressing his disappointment he would not see him there.

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Asked at a regular press conference about whether the announcement meant Xi would not travel to New Delhi, Mao said: “I made an announcement about this just now.

“Premier Li Qiang will lead a delegation to New Delhi, India, to take part in the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

“What I can tell you is that the G20 is an important forum for international economic cooperation.”

The Group of 20 major economies consists of 19 countries and the European Union (EU), making up about 85 per cent of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population.

The summit has taken on additional importance this year as many countries wrestle with high inflation and economic turbulence amid a slowing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The International Convention Centre 'Bharat Mandapam' the venue for the summit. Image Credit: AFP

China, the world’s second-largest economy, has set an annual growth target of around five per cent.

Asked about Xi reportedly not planning to join the gathering in New Delhi, Biden told reporters on Sunday: “I am disappointed, but I am going to get to see him”, without elaborating.

Xi has attended every G20 summit since coming to power except Rome in 2021, when he participated by video link.

“China has always placed high importance on and actively participated in relevant events,” Mao continued.

“In attending this meeting, Premier Li Qiang will convey China’s thoughts and positions on G20 cooperation, pushing for the G20 to strengthen unity and cooperation, and working together to combat global economic and development challenges.

“We are willing to work with all sides to jointly push for the success of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, and to make active contributions to promoting a stable global economic recovery and sustainable development.”

Military drills launched

Meanwhile, India launched major military drills Monday which will continue during the G20 summit in New Delhi.

The 11 days of drills named “Trishul”, or trident, were “an annual training exercise” in northern zones, a defence official told AFP, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

21 hotels to house delegations

As many as 21 hotels have been assigned for the delegations flying in from September 7 (starting with Biden) to attend the summit, but from a security point of view, five have been designated as most sensitive.

These top-end five-star hotels are all in those privileged parts of New Delhi where India’s civilian and military top-brass resides.

The hotels where the five most closely watched delegations will check in are: ITC Maurya, Chanakyapuri (US President Joe Biden); Taj Palace, Chanakyapuri (Li Qiang); Shangri-La by Eros, Connaught Place (British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak); The Claridges, Motilal Nehru Marg (French President Emmanuel Macron); and The Imperial, Connaught Place (Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese).

People watch a test run of a musical fountain in a newly constructed park near the banks of the river Yamuna, for the G20 Summit, in New Delhi. Image Credit: AFP

Most delegations are staying in one hotel, but some are checking into more than one. The Italians, for instance, are moving into two hotels (JW Marriott, New Delhi Aerocity, and the Hyatt Regency, Bhikaji Cama Place); the Spaniards into two (Roseate House, New Delhi Aerocity, and the Hyatt Regency); the Turks have settled for three (The Trident, Gurugram; The Oberoi New Delhi; and Pullman, New Delhi Aerocity) and so has the delegation from Mauritius (ITC Maurya; Le Meridien New Delhi and the Hyatt Regency).

Le Meridien New Delhi, which is located in the heart of the national capital in Janpath, will house three more delegations — from The Netherlands, Nigeria and the European Union).

In fact, if one draws a straight line from Le Meridien, one will cross the Shangri-la (temporary home of Rishi Sunak) and The Imperial (Anthony Albanese’s base, which will be shared by last year’s hosts, the Indonesians), making it a VVIP mile.

A bus shelter displaying a G20 communication with a portrait of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. Image Credit: AFP

A little farther down, the Canadian and Japanese delegations will moving in at The Lalit on Barakhamba Avenue.

The other such concentration stretches from the Hyatt Regency to The Leela Palace (where the Saudi Arabian delegation led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will check in), leading up to the ITC Maurya and Taj Palace (which, incidentally, will also house the Brazilians), the most sensitive locations for the security agencies.

Russian delegation will be at The Oberoi New Delhi. At The Lodhi, on the other side of the road from The Oberoi, the Omani delegation shall be checking in.

As reported earlier by IANS, Aerocity and Gurugram hotels have a minor role in the lineup of delegation hotels, obviously because of the distance between these and venue, namely, the Bharat Mandapam at the ITPO Complex (the former Pragati Maidan).

The hotels in the Aerocity and Gurugram that are in the picture are: The Trident, Gurugram; Andaz, Pullman and Roseate House, New Delhi Aerocity.

Three delegations have opted for hotels at quite a distance from the city centre, and they are: Bangladesh (The Grand New Delhi, Vasant Kunj); Egypt (Sheraton New Delhi, Saket); and Mexico (Radisson Blu, Dwarka).

Flags of participating countries near the G20 venue. Image Credit: AFP
Founded in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was a forum for finance ministers and governors of central banks to come together and discuss global economic and financial issues.
The Asian financial crisis began in 1997 in Thailand and spread to several other countries in a ripple effect, gripping much of east and Southeast Asia and threatening of a global impact.
The situation, however, stabilised and recovered by 1998-99.
After the global economic meltdown of 2007, the G20 group was elevated to the level of Heads of State/Government and was named the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.”
This conglomerate includes 19 wealthiest countries of the world and the European Union. Its presidency rotates annually among the member countries.
The G20 countries together account for 75 per cent of global trade and 85 per cent of the world’s GDP, besides comprising nearly two-thirds of the global population.
It is to be noted that the G20 conglomerate is distinct from G20+, a bloc of developing nations established on August 20, 2003.
It emerged at the fifth Ministerial WTO conference held in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003. This group accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s population, 70 per cent of its farmers and 26 per cent of the world’s agricultural exports.
The G20 conglomerate is similarly intended along the lines of BRICS, the 15th edition of which concluded recently in Johannesburg, South Africa.
This group of primarily Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa came together in 2010 after South Africa joined the existing BRICS group that was formed in 2001. BRICS is described as the fastest-growing economies that seek to collectively dominate the global economy by 2050.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES THIS YEAR? Under India’s year-long presidency, the bloc has centred discussions around more loans to developing nations from multilateral institutions, reforming international debt architecture, regulations on cryptocurrency and the impact of geopolitical uncertainties on food and energy security.
So far this year, the bloc has failed to issue any joint statements as it is deeply divided over language referring to the war in Ukraine.
While Russia and China are against blaming Moscow for the war in Ukraine, Western countries including the United States, France and Canada have sought a strong condemnation as a necessary condition for a joint statement.
SUMMIT THEME: India’s G20 theme is derived from the Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which translates to The World is One Family”.
WHEN AND WHERE IS THE NEXT MEETING India will hand over the presidency to Brazil on December 1.