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World Leaders Converge in India as Biden Joins G20 Summit

NEW DELHI, India—President Joe Biden landed in India’s capital, New Delhi, on Friday at 6:46 p.m. local time to attend the Group of 20 (G20) meeting, which will bring together the leaders of the world’s top economies in New Delhi this weekend.

The president will use the summit as an opportunity to sell the strength of the U.S. economy and draw contrasts with China’s growing economic troubles as he tries to position the United States as a more reliable partner.

President Biden’s trip to Asia comes amid rising geopolitical rivalry with China as Washington seeks to strengthen alliances and partnership with countries, particularly those in the Global South.

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His key priority at the crucial meeting is to propose strengthening multilateral development banks, particularly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as an alternative to China’s “coercive” lending program, according to the White House.

While China has become the world’s largest creditor in recent years, its aggressive lending strategy under the Belt and Road Initiative has been criticized by other countries for its lack of transparency.

“We believe that there should be a high standard of non-coercive lending options available to low- and middle-income countries,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said at a press briefing on Sept. 5.

However, Chinese leader Xi Jinping won’t be attending the summit in New Delhi. Instead, Premier Li Qiang will represent Beijing at this year’s meeting. In the absence of Mr. Xi at the summit, it remains to be seen whether President Biden can rally other countries against the Chinese regime’s controversial lending practices.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday that the administration is asking other G20 partners to enhance the financial capacity of multilateral development banks.

“We have asked other countries to join with us to the extent that they’re able to in this initiative, and we are hopeful that other countries, depending on their financial capacity, will join us,” Ms. Yellen said at a press briefing on the sidelines of the G20 summit in India.

Bilateral Meetings

Soon after this arrival, the president will hold a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a number of issues related to trade, supply chains, and critical and emerging technologies.

The Biden administration sees India as a crucial regional manufacturing base for companies seeking to leave China. Hence, shifting supply chains to India from China is expected to be a major topic of discussion during the meeting.

Both leaders are expected to focus on several bilateral issues, including the production of GE jet engines in India and the procurement of MQ-9 Reapers drones, according to the White House.

“We will see meaningful progress on a number of issues, including the GE jet engine issue, the MQ-9 Reapers, on 5G/6G, on collaboration on critical and emerging technologies, and progress also in the civil nuclear area as well,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on board Air Force One.

The G20 members account for roughly 85 percent of global gross domestic product. The group includes the Group of Seven (G7) countries, the European Union, and 12 other countries, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

While in India, President Biden is expected to meet with several leaders on the margins of the summit, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

After the conclusion of the summit, Biden is expected to travel to Vietnam to meet with Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and other top Vietnamese leaders in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. During this visit, both countries are expected to formally announce an improved partnership, delivering a strong message to China.

After that, President Biden will return to Alaska, where he’ll attend a commemoration of September 11 with military families in Anchorage, Alaska.

President Biden’s trip to Asia comes at a time when he is dealing with a number of domestic issues, one of which is low approval ratings. According to a recent CNN poll, President Biden’s job performance and the state of the country are “deeply negative.” His approval rating is only 39 percent, and 58 percent believe his policies have worsened economic conditions in the United States, according to the poll. President Biden also confronts substantial skepticism from Democratic-aligned voters due to his age.

President Biden is also facing a series of pressing domestic political challenges, including a potential government shutdown and impeachment investigation by House Republicans.

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