Beijing: China's President Xi Jinping has not left his nation for the past 600 days and experts believe it might further hamper the relationship with Western countries, according to a Bloomberg report.
Xi on Thursday virtually attended a summit of leaders from BRICS nations, the latest of more than a dozen gatherings he’s participated in so far this year via video.
He’s also held about 60 calls with world leaders, including multiple chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French leader Emmanuel Macron. Xi spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden by phone Friday, reports Bloomberg.
But worries are growing that Xi’s desire to stay in the country, a byproduct of China’s strategy to completely eliminate cases of Covid-19, could start having diplomatic consequences -- particularly if he avoids the G-20 meeting in Rome at the end of October and a UN climate summit right afterward, reported Bloomberg.
From issues like Hong Kong to COVID-19, the relationship between China and the West has deteriorated in recent years.
Xi’s reluctance to head overseas could be an obstacle to improving relations with those countries and others because it eliminates the possibility of face-to-face meetings on the sidelines of major events that can help ease tensions. Xi has not yet confirmed his presence at the G-20 meeting, according to a government official and senior European diplomat, Bloomberg reported.
The official cited Covid-19 protocols as the reason Xi may not attend in person.
The diplomat added there were mounting concerns that Xi wouldn’t show up, an outcome that could be damaging for the summit’s prospects.
Xi last went for a trip to Myanmar on Jan. 18, 2020.
Following the trip, Wuhan was put under lockdown to prevent COVID-19 spread.
“The risk of Covid exposure hasn’t been worth travel at the highest level,” Natasha Kassam, director of the Lowy Institute’s Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Program told Bloomberg.
“Some of the Chinese public may also question lavish international travel given the serious restrictions they have faced in response to small outbreaks.”