At G20 summit, Xi Jinping forgoes chance to improve ties with world leaders
Chinese President Xi Jinping's meetings at the G20 summit in Bali did not go as per the plan after a video of his conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went viral and his meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was cancelled, The Age reported.
The G20 summit was a chance for Xi to improve his ties with world leaders after years of tensions caused by China's aggressive "wolf warrior" diplomacy and COVID-19 restrictions, according to The Age report.
As China did not hold a formal sit-down with Canada's leader, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pulled Xi Jinping aside on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. During the conversation, Trudeau expressed his views on the war in Ukraine and raised his concerns about China's alleged interference in the Canadian elections, as per The Age report.
The details regarding the informal conversation between Xi and Trudeau were leaked to Canadian media which the Chinese leader did not like. Xi expressed his displeasure regarding the information being leaked to the media.
While the camera was rolling behind Xi's translator, the Chinese leader told Trudeau, "The conversation we had was leaked to the paper, it is inappropriate. That's not the way the conversation was conducted. If there was sincerity, we can communicate well with mutual respect."
"Otherwise anything could happen," The Age report described it as a chilling warning from a president who was trying to mend his ties with world leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit, who have memories of the Chinese government's use of "hostage diplomacy, trade strikes and economic coercion to get what it wants.
China has been using these ways against Australia in the past four years, after Canberra's response to Chinese foreign interference in elections in 2018, according to the news report.
After United Kingdom Prime Minister's meeting with Xi was cancelled, Britain's spy chief, MI5 director-general Ken McCallum said, "they are trying to rewrite the rule book, to buy the league, to recruit our coaching staff to work for them," The Age reported.
China was trying to keep control of the "stabilisation" narrative by releasing information regarding their formal meetings simultaneously or shortly after they had ended. Trudeau's leak about informal conversation took away that control.
Xi tried to demonstrate China's role as a stabilising force in all his 16 meetings in Bali and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit in Bali. Apart from tensions with Canada and UK, Xi tried to mend relationships with other world leaders by reminding them that their 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties was coming up.
According to the report, Xi Jinping's most important meeting was with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, a leader of an 'increasingly important regional partner.' The two leaders even issued a joint statement which is the only joint statement of Xi's dozen meetings in Bali. In a joint statement, Xi Jinping and Joko Widodo declared that China and Indonesia will become developed nations by mid-century.
At the start of the meeting, Widodo described Xi as his "big brother" and in the joint statement, the two leaders mentioned that their ties would forge "an exemplary model of major developing countries seeking mutual respect, mutual benefit, win-win results, justice, equity, common development and South-South cooperation".
World leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian PM Emmanuel Macron, have pressurised Xi to take a firmer stance on Ukraine. During his talks with Macron, Xi said, "China stands for a ceasefire, cessation of the conflict and peace talks." He stressed that the international community should "create conditions for this to happen" and China will continue to play a "constructive role."