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Why Xi Jinping’s G20 Summit no-show is a big deal

Sep 06, 2023


The G20 Summit, an annual event that brings together world leaders from the largest economies, is scheduled for Sept. 9-10 in New Delhi, India. Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be present and will instead send a representative.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan argues that Xi’s absence at the summit raises concerns about China’s leadership. He believes that this summit is precisely what China needs, given its ongoing economic challenges.

Excerpted from the Sept. 6 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The announcement that Xi Jinping won’t be attending the upcoming G20 Summit is the equivalent of friends coming together for your intervention, and you turn around as soon as you see their cars parked down the road. With China facing economic slowdown, trade wars, and a slew of other things, an intervention (aka the G20 Summit) is exactly what Xi needs right now.

While some speculate that Xi is moving away from G20 in favor of BRICS, he didn’t even show up to the opening ceremony of the BRICS business forum. So, this announcement doesn’t indicate any political angle; it’s just a reminder of Chinese leadership’s ongoing and accelerating failure.

Xi has purged the Chinese political system of anyone who can form thoughts and potentially challenge his power, leaving him as the judge, jury, executioner, and everything else of importance in China. Even if Xi happened to be the smartest person in the world (which I won’t even comment on), he is still human.

Xi can only do so much alone, and the lack of competence across the Chinese system means that policy stalls wherever Xi is not. While Xi will send a replacement to the summit, concerns over China’s leadership capabilities are mounting, and the question remains – what is next for the Chinese people?

Everybody, Peter Zion here coming to you from Colorado. It’s Monday, the fourth of September. And the news out of China is that Chairman Xi Jinping will not be attending the upcoming G20 summit in India. There’s a lot going on in the world, I’m generally not a big fan of the G20, but if you’re considering the Chinese economic slowdown, trade wars and all kinds of other things, it’s a good time for leaders to actually be meeting face to face to do things. 


Some people are saying that this is Xi spurting the G20 in favor of things like BRICs. But remember that he didn’t show up to the opening ceremony of the BRICS and the Business Forum, which is arguably the most important part of the BRICS forum, as well. What we’re seeing here instead of any political decision to favor or denigrate any particular forum, or angle of policy, is instead the general ongoing and accelerating failure of the Chinese leadership system to cope with the situation they find themselves in. 


Over the course of the last 12-13 years. Chairman Xi is basically progressively purged every part of the political system. It is first five years, he went called an anti corruption push. And he went after all the regional power centers and the next five years, he went after the two factions that actually put them in power, that of his predecessors, Genji min and who Jintao. And the last couple of years, he’s going against anyone who has basically had an opinion or shown any competence who might be a theoretical successor. And we’re now at a point where there’s no one left. 


So if something pops up that Xi thinks needs to be dealt with, he is now the only one who can deal with it. So he sent us Premier Li Quinn, who is got the personality and the competence of a block of wood to sit in for him where he’ll basically just be reading policy papers and not until you engage in any sort of meaningful negotiation on anything while she does whatever it is, he feels he needs to do. And remember, he’s still a person so this might not be policy related. It could be personal. 


But Xi has now found himself in a very similar situation to that of Donald Trump and Barack Obama, that he just doesn’t trust anyone to do anything and so not a lot is gonna get done, that’s gonna get done confidently and even if he is the smartest person to the best manager on the planet. He can only be at one place at a time doing one thing at a time. And as a result, Chinese policy at every other field at best stalls. Not a good sign. Alright, that’s it.

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