Premier Li Qiang will lead China's delegation at the G20 leaders summit in New Delhi, the foreign ministry says, indicating President Xi Jinping will not attend and scuppering chances of his meeting US President Joe Biden there.
China hopes this weekend's summit can consolidate consensus, convey confidence and promote development, spokesperson Mao Ning told a news conference.
Mao declined to directly confirm that Li's attendance means Xi would not go, although she did not correct reporters for making that assertion. Reuters reported exclusively last month that Xi was likely to skip the meeting and send Li in his place.
"The G20 is the main forum for international economic cooperation and China has always placed great importance on and proactively taken part in such events," said Mao on Monday when asked by one reporter why China's "leader" will not attend.
In effect though, Li leading the delegation at G20 does mean that Xi will not go since China would not have both its president and premier abroad simultaneously, let alone appear at the same event.