HomeTop StoriesXi welcomes indebted leaders to China as he skips the G-20

Xi welcomes indebted leaders to China as he skips the G-20

(Bloomberg) — President Xi Jinping will host the leaders of two heavily indebted countries for state visits to China this weekend, while skipping the world’s main summit diplomacy forum in India.

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Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema will visit China from Sept. 10-16, while Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela will arrive on Friday for a seven-day trip, the foreign ministry in Beijing said in separate statements.

The symbolism of Xi’s decision to host two world leaders while decrying the Group of Twenty summit sends a clear message about how he favors diplomacy: the Chinese leader is increasingly hosting dignitaries on his own territory, or turning turned to groups where Beijing has more influence. , such as the recently expanded BRICS.

Zambia and Venezuela have sought economic help from China in recent years as they struggle to service mountains of debt, a significant portion of which is owed to Beijing. President Joe Biden plans to push for debt relief for poor countries and will announce funding for infrastructure projects at the G-20 summit this weekend.

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While Zambia and Venezuela are central to the global debt conversation, neither are members of the G-20. The group has agreed to grant permanent membership to the African Union, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, a move that would give Zambia some chance of participating in future summits.

Tire repair

Maduro’s visit to the world’s second-largest economy comes as China and Venezuela are re-establishing ties after years of cooling ties, and against a backdrop of growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing. A meeting with Xi would be the first time in five years that the two leaders have met.

China became a major lender to Venezuela in 2007 when it first provided funds for infrastructure and oil projects under the late President Hugo Chávez. Now Maduro’s government is trying to raise more money from Venezuela’s vast oil wealth ahead of its anticipated bid for a third presidential term.

Biden is also trying to engage Venezuelan officials in talks about lifting the sanctions in exchange for allowing fair elections next year. After defaulting on $60 billion in international market debt in 2017, Venezuela was unable to engage with bondholders due to economic sanctions that prevented US investors from doing business with the Maduro administration.

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China’s stance on participating in debt restructuring negotiations has become increasingly important given its role as the largest creditor to many poor countries.

Earlier this year, Zambia became the first country to receive major debt relief through the so-called Common Framework. China’s central role in the agreement to restructure $6.3 billion in bilateral debt provided an example of how coordination between the Chinese government, the Paris Club and bondholders can work.

Earlier this month, Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund, said the organization had a “strong partnership” with China during a visit.

Simultaneous scenarios

While Xi receives world leaders at home, his Prime Minister Li Qiang will represent China at the G-20 summit in New Delhi. The White House said Biden does not plan to meet Li at the summit, and that Xi’s absence is likely to exacerbate Beijing’s already shaky relationship with the forum’s host, India.

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Meanwhile, according to a White House statement, Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Indian capital on Friday evening.

Xi’s next major international event now appears to be the third Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing next month. More than 90 countries have confirmed they will attend, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters at a regular press conference on Thursday, without giving details.

So far, only one world leader has confirmed to attend the event: Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will make his first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes.

–With help from Fran Wang.

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