Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in collaboration with the United States and Europe, successfully formulated a more effective strategy to counter China’s influence on the global stage, despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s absence from the Group of 20 (G20) summit. The decision to stay away from the summit was seen as an attempt to deny India a moment in the spotlight, but it ultimately backfired.

The G20 member nations lauded India’s achievement in reaching an agreement on a joint communique, which had been in doubt just days before the annual diplomatic event. In addition to finding common ground on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the most challenging issue, they also elevated the African Union to full G20 membership and took action on important issues such as climate change and debt sustainability, which are priorities for emerging markets.

While the compromise on the language related to the war in Ukraine may have disappointed Ukraine, it represented a significant win for Prime Minister Modi and bolstered India’s status as a rising power capable of countering China’s global influence. President Joe Biden played a leading role in this effort, recognizing India as a key partner in isolating China and Russia and reinforcing the US-led world order.

The outcome of the summit demonstrated that Washington is increasingly attuned to the concerns and priorities of the so-called Global South, with India serving as a principal guide in this regard. While some may view the communique as diluted compared to the Bali Declaration and of limited practical impact, it was seen as a small price to pay for India’s victory.

The summit dynamics were highlighted by President Biden’s meeting with leaders from key members of the BRICS grouping, including PM Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, minus China and Russia. This bloc’s expansion posed a challenge to the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies.

The US also announced a separate deal with India, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries to develop a significant rail and maritime network in the region. This was seen as an attempt to provide an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and gain influence in the Gulf.

Xi’s decision to skip the G20 Summit marked a departure from his previous efforts to present himself as a statesman willing to collaborate with other countries. China’s stance on minor issues, such as language usage and the US’s bid to host the G-20 gathering in 2026, may have appeared petty. Nevertheless, China eventually relented on its opposition to the communique.

India’s role in negotiating a compromise was praised by all sides, highlighting its position as a trustworthy mediator in a divided world. The alignment with major democracies in the Global South on global issues, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, was seen as an important achievement.

While some US allies may have had reservations about the final language on Ukraine, supporting the compromise presented an opportunity to strengthen ties with emerging markets and counter China’s influence. Even Russia, represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saw the agreement as a win and appreciated the involvement of BRICS democracies in negotiations with the G7.

India’s ability to assert global leadership and amplify the voice of the Global South was a significant outcome of the summit. PM Modi declared that “history has been created,” and India was hailed as the spokesperson for the Global South. This achievement demonstrated India’s capacity to unite the world on developmental and geopolitical issues.

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