Xi hosts debt-burdened leaders in China as he skips G20 meet – Times of India – Lifotravel

China’s President Xi Jinping will host the leaders of two heavily indebted nations for state visits to China this weekend, as he skips the world’s premier forum for top-level diplomacy in India.
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema will visit China from September 10 to 16, while Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro arrived on Friday for a seven-day trip.
The symbolism of Xi’s decision to host two world leaders as he snubs the G20 summit sends a clear message about how he prefers to conduct diplomacy: The Chinese leader is increasingly receiving dignitaries on home soil, or turning to groups where Beijing has more clout, such as the newly expanded Brics.
Zambia and Venezuela have sought economic relief from China in recent years as they struggle to service mountains of debt, a significant portion of which is owed to Beijing. President Biden plans to push for debt relief for poor countries and announce funding for infrastructure projects at the G20 summit this weekend.
While Zambia and Venezuela are a central part of the global conversation on debt, neither is a G20 member. The grouping has agreed to grant permanent membership to the African Union, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, a move that would give Zambia some opportunity for participation at future summits.
Maduro’s visit to the world’s second-largest economy comes as China and Venezuela are re-establishing connections after years of cooling ties, and against a backdrop of intensifying Washington-Beijing rivalry. A meeting with Xi would mark the first time the two leaders have sat down in five years. “Here we are in China again,” Maduro said in a video posted on X, as he arrived in Shenzhen for what he called a “historical visit.”
China became a key lender to Venezuela in 2007, when it first provided funds for infrastructure and oil projects under late President Hugo Chavez. Now, Maduro’s government is seeking to raise more money from Venezuela’s massive oil wealth before his expected bid for a third presidential term. Biden is also seeking to engage Venezuelan officials in talks about lifting sanctions in exchange for allowing fair elections next year.
Zambia’s global importance is growing, given its vast deposits of minerals critical for the energy transition. Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, its also home to what will be the continent’s biggest nickel mine and has cobalt resources. That’s placed it at the centre of a struggle for influence between China and the West as governments try secure access to metals that are forecast to be in short supply over the next decade.
Hichilema, who’s making his first trip to China, may pursue talks on the revival of the Tanzania-Zambia railway line that links its copper mining region to the port of Dar es Salaam. The line – built by China in the 1970s – has fallen into disrepair and runs at about 10% of design capacity.
As Xi hosts world leaders at home, his Premier Li Qiang will represent China at the G-20 summit in New Delhi. The White House said Biden doesn’t intend to meet with Li during the summit. Xi’s next major international event now looks to be the third Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing next month. More than 90 countries have confirmed that they will attend, a Chinese spokesman told reporters on Thursday, without providing details. So far, only one world leader is confirmed to attend the event: Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will make his first trip abroad since a warrant for his arrest on alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court.

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