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Despite Xi’s decision not to attend G20 in India, China says bilateral ties are ‘generally stable’

BEIJING (AP) — Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision not to attend this week’s Group of 20 summit in India, Beijing says relations between the two nuclear-armed Asian giants remain “generally stable” .

China announced on Monday that Premier Li Qiang, who took office only this spring, would represent China at the Sept. 9-10 meeting in New Delhi.

Relations between China and India remain frosty over their border dispute which led to a clash three years ago that killed 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers. It has become a protracted standoff in the rugged mountainous region, where each side has stationed tens of thousands of military personnel, supported by artillery, tanks and fighter jets.

Without citing the dispute, or the reason for Xi’s decision not to attend, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said China’s leadership “has always supported India’s host of this year’s summit and willing to work with all parties to make the G20 Summit a success.”

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“Currently, relations between China and India remain generally stable, with dialogue and communication maintained at all levels,” Mao told reporters at a daily briefing.

“We are ready to work with India to promote greater and continued development of China-India relations,” she said.

Frictions have also arisen between the two over trade, technology and investment as well as India’s growing strategic ties with China’s main rival, the United States. Both India and China have expelled each other’s journalists and the once abundant education exchanges have all but dried up.

India has recently overtaken China as the most populous country in the world and the two are rivals in computing, steel making, space exploration and other high tech fields.

In an effort to quell the possibility of future clashes, Chinese and Indian military commanders met last month and pledged to “maintain peace and tranquility” along the line of de facto control that separates Chinese-Indian-held territories from Ladakh to the west to that of India. eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety.

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By not attending the G20, Xi is passing on a chance to interact with President Joe Biden at a time when relations between their two countries have reached an all-time low. China also appears to be hinting that Xi will not attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in San Francisco in November.

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