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Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photo Credit - Reuters)

Xi Jinping last ventured out of China 21 months ago, COVID-19 one main reason

ANI | Updated: Oct 31, 2021 18:19 IST


Beijing [China], October 31 (ANI): As the world leaders met in person to address the G20 summit in Rome, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the summit virtually owing to a resurgence of COVID-19 in the country.
Xi has not left China in 21 months. His last trio outside the country was in January 2020.
COVID-19 outbreak in China is being seen as one overt reason for not stepping out of the country.
Interestingly, the Chinese President has also not met his American counterpart, Joe Biden who assumed charge in January this year.
Jinping is also scheduled to address the climate talks in the coming week at United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) virtually where the country's commitment to "curbing" the carbon emissions has been seen as important to blunt the dreadful results of climate change, reported the New York Times.
There has been a shift in the domestic as well as the foreign policy under Xi Jinping in the last few months.
China does not feel the compulsion to cooperate or even be seen as a cooperative nation to the United States and its allies on anything apart from its own terms, reported the NYT.
China's ambition to position itself as an alternative to the American leadership has had a big blow due to the absence of Xi Jinping which has contributed to the "sharp deterioration" in its relation with the other countries around the globe.
As the Communist Party congress is scheduled next year and Jinping is expected to continue in the office for another five years, the officials are occupied with protecting his health and internal political machinations, resulting in the low priority of the face to face diplomacy for the President than it was in his first years in office, according to the newspaper.

Jinping has led himself to the deprivation of the chances to counter the decline in China's reputation amid the escalating tensions on trade, Taiwan.
It has not even been a year since Jinping had made concessions to lock an agreement on investment with the European Union. However, the deal was messed up over political sanctions. China has since then not taken up an invitation for the president to hold a meeting with the EU leaders.
"It eliminates or reduces opportunities for engagements at the top leadership level," NYT quoted a senior analyst with the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, Helena Legarda as saying on the lack of Jinping's travels.
"Diplomatically speaking, in-person meetings are very often fundamental to try and overcome leftover obstacles in any sort of agreement or to try to reduce tensions," NYT further quoted her as saying.
The absence of Xi Jinping has crushed the little hope that the G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 can progress on either of the two most essential issues that the world is coping up with: the recovery from the pandemic and global warming, reported NYT.
Joe Biden had sought to meet Jinping on the sidelines of the meetings he is attending, keeping up with his strategy to work with China on issues pertaining to climate change. However, the agreement has been reached to hold a "virtual summit", informed the NYT.
"If Xi were to leave China, he would either need to adhere to Covid protocols upon return to Beijing or risk criticism for placing himself above the rules that apply to everyone else," NYT quoted a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was the director for China at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, Ryan Hass as saying.
However, the Chinese government has not given up on diplomacy as China took the anchor role along with Russia to negotiate with the Taliban since its return to power in August in Afghanistan. Jinping has also had conference calls with Germany's outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, according to the NYT.
However, there has been a specific halt in the international travel of Jinping. He had left China for the last time in January 2020 during his visit to Myanmar, only a few days before announcing lockdown in Wuhan.
In the pre-COVID times, Jinping visited 14 countries on an average annually with 34 days abroad, reported NYT citing Thomas.
"He no longer feels that he needs international support because he has so much domestic support or domestic control. This general effort to court America and also the European countries is less today than it was during his first term," NYT quoted a professor of political science at the University of California, Shih as saying. (ANI)

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