G20 Summit ends, revealing heightened US-China tensions.

HANOI, Vietnam—President Joe Biden concluded his meetings on Sept. 10 at the Group of 20‌ (G20) summit, which was held in India’s capital New Delhi, after paying‍ tribute to​ the father ⁣of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, alongside ⁢other ⁤world ⁤leaders.

The ​president ⁣left‍ India to travel to Vietnam, where he was ​to ​announce ⁢a strengthened partnership ⁤with the‌ communist nation on ​Sept. 10.

The president traveled ⁣to Asia at a ⁣time‍ of ‍intensifying competition between the ‌United States and China. This year’s summit revealed heightened tensions between two powerful ‍countries, as ​evidenced by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s absence ⁣from the‌ summit and​ Beijing’s objections to⁣ the ⁤United⁤ States hosting ‌the⁢ G20 summit in 2026.

While some argue that Mr.​ Xi’s absence means that​ the regime⁤ is abandoning the G20 and establishing⁣ an alternative‌ world​ order. To counter that notion, ⁢President Biden sought to ​fill the void‌ left by Mr. Xi‌ at this year’s summit by presenting America as ⁤a ​more reliable partner than China ‌and capable of​ uniting the world’s richest countries around common ​goals, including providing “non-coercive” development financing options to‌ developing countries.

“It would be nice to have him here,”​ President Biden told ⁤reporters in ‌India when ⁣asked about whether Mr. ​Xi’s ‌absence affected the summit.

“But, no,” he added. “The summit is going ⁢well.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R), U.S. ‌President Joe Biden (C), German Chancellor⁢ Olaf Scholz (3R) and Australia’s Prime Minister​ Anthony Albanese (3L) along with world leaders arrive to pay respect at‍ the ⁤Mahatma Gandhi memorial at​ Raj Ghat​ on the⁤ sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi on Sept. 10, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP⁤ via Getty Images)

At the New ‌Delhi ⁢summit, ‍the G20 members were divided over many issues, including the war in Ukraine; however, leaders made several key decisions during the two-day summit in⁢ India’s capital.

Key Takeaways From 2-Day Summit

Joint Statement From the Fragmented Group

The most ‌contentious issue at this year’s⁤ summit was how‍ to address the Ukraine war ​in the joint communiqué. There was skepticism that a summit communiqué would⁢ be issued due‌ to significant divisions among members.

While some countries demanded ⁣strong language against Russia, labeling ⁣the G20 member as an‍ aggressor, India, the ⁣G20 president, had been⁢ trying to strike a balance in⁤ the summit declaration. India’s close relationship with Moscow and its​ unwillingness to issue strong statements complicated the effort as well.

The G20 members finally agreed ​on Sept. 9 to adopt a consensus declaration that ⁢avoided specifically⁤ denouncing Russia over‍ the war ⁤in Ukraine, instead broadly urging all countries to⁤ refrain ⁤from using force to annex territory.

“In line ​with the U.N. Charter,⁣ all states⁢ must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.​ The use or threat ⁣of use of nuclear weapons is⁢ inadmissible,” ⁣the declaration ⁣reads.

Despite Russia and China’s objections, the leaders also reached a compromise on‍ the language in several ⁣paragraphs to describe the war in Ukraine.

“We highlighted the human suffering ⁣and negative added ‍impacts of the war in Ukraine with⁢ regard to global food‍ and energy‍ security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation, and growth, which‌ has complicated the ‍policy​ environment for countries,” the communiqué stated. “There were different views ​and⁤ assessments of the situation.”

The statement from last ‍year’s summit in Bali said that “most members ⁢strongly⁢ condemned the war in Ukraine,” ⁢which wasn’t included in this year’s ‍statement. The Bali statement had also quoted a ​U.N. resolution deploring “in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian ⁣Federation⁤ against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.”

Hence, this year’s statement is viewed as having softer language⁣ regarding the Russia–Ukraine war than last year’s ⁣declaration.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry​ called ⁢the ‌joint declaration “nothing to be proud of,” as it failed to label Russia as an ⁣aggressor in the war.

The White ‍House defended ⁢the statement, calling it “unprecedented.”

“The vast majority of G20 countries have supported multiple U.N. resolutions ‍that call out Russia’s illegal aggression,” deputy national security adviser ⁣Jon Finer told‌ reporters on Sept. 10.

“The joint statement issued yesterday builds​ on that ​to ‌send an unprecedented, unified ⁤statement on the imperative‍ that Russia refrain from using force for territorial ⁤acquisition,” he added.

Railway Project to Counter Belt and ⁣Road

At the summit, the United States, India, Saudi⁤ Arabia,​ and ​the⁢ United Arab Emirates announced a memorandum of understanding​ (MOU) (pdf) for an⁣ infrastructure project that will connect India, the Middle East, and Europe via sea and rail transportation.

The project will create an economic ‍corridor linked by a‌ railway line and existing ports through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. ⁢However, it ⁣isn’t a done deal. The United States will play a critical role⁣ in facilitating the negotiations over the terms‍ of the agreement for the infrastructure project, White​ House ‌officials said.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister ‌Mohammed bin Salman (L), India’s Prime‌ Minister Narendra ‌Modi (C), and U.S. President ‍Joe Biden attend a session as part of the G20 Leaders’ Summit at⁤ the Bharat Mandapam⁤ in New Delhi on September 9,⁢ 2023. (Evelyn⁤ Hockstein/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“This​ is a big deal. This is a ​real⁤ big deal,” President Biden said, welcoming the MOU‍ in a speech during the summit.

The project is‌ considered one of ⁤the White House’s key initiatives in the Middle East⁢ to counter ‌China’s growing influence in the region through⁤ its controversial infrastructure program, the Belt ‍and Road Initiative⁣ (BRI, also known as‌ One Belt, One Road).

Since its launch in 2013, China’s BRI has poured ‌billions of dollars into infrastructure projects across Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. In recent years, however, ⁤Beijing has been accused by the United States of using “debt-trap‍ diplomacy” to lure many ⁢nations into its ​orbit.

This MOU is ⁢part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment⁢ (PGII) ⁤initiative ‌led by the Group of Seven⁢ (G7) countries⁤ to ⁤fund infrastructure ⁢projects in developing ‌countries.

PGII projec

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