Xi Jinping’s absence from the Group of 20 (G-20) summit had a purpose, possibly to deprive India of its moment in the spotlight. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with the United States and Europe, managed to find an effective way to counter China’s influence on the global stage.
The G-20 nations praised India’s success in reaching an agreement on a joint communique, which had been uncertain just days before the leaders gathered in New Delhi for this crucial diplomatic event. Besides finding common ground on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the most challenging issue, they also elevated the African Union to full G-20 membership and took action on pressing issues like climate change and debt sustainability, which are priorities for emerging markets.
While the final communique disappointed Ukraine, the United States and its allies were willing to accept a compromise to bolster India’s position as a rising power capable of countering China’s global influence. President Joe Biden, in particular, saw India as a key partner in isolating China and Russia and strengthening the U.S.-led world order.
This summit showcased Washington’s growing understanding of the language and priorities of the so-called Global South, with India playing a pivotal role as a guide.
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One notable moment during the summit was Biden’s meeting to discuss White House-led efforts to provide more financing to developing nations. Alongside World Bank President Ajay Banga, Biden was photographed with Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, all key members of the BRICS grouping, excluding China and Russia. This expansion of the BRICS posed a challenge to the Group of Seven advanced economies.
In addition to this, the U.S. announced a deal with India, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries to develop an ambitious rail and maritime network in the region. While the project’s specifics were somewhat vague, Biden emphasized its importance as a “game-changing regional investment.” This move was seen as a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and aimed to provide healthy competition.
Biden made it clear that the U.S. supports China’s economic success but wants it to adhere to international rules.
Xi Jinping’s decision to skip the G-20 summit was a notable shift from his previous commitment to “getting along with other countries.” China’s stance on minor issues, such as Modi’s use of a Sanskrit phrase and the U.S.’s bid to host the G-20 in 2026, made them appear petty and potentially obstructive.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni even indicated her nation’s intention to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative, a blow to Beijing’s ambitions.
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China eventually relented on its opposition to the communique, with India receiving praise for negotiating a compromise. This consensus highlighted India’s role as a trustworthy global player in a world divided on geopolitical issues, particularly concerning the Ukraine conflict.
While the final language on Ukraine may have raised concerns among some U.S. allies, supporting the compromise allowed for closer alignment with major democracies in the Global South, which are crucial swing nations in addressing global issues like Russia’s war.
In conclusion, the G-20 summit showcased India’s growing leadership role on the global stage and its ability to bring together countries from the Global South. The United States and Europe found common ground with emerging markets, strengthening their collective influence and countering China’s absence. This summit demonstrated the importance of diplomacy and cooperation in addressing global challenges and fostering a more multipolar world order.