US, India score G20 wins at China’s expense

China and Russia’s leaders may have decided to skip this year’s G20 gathering in New Delhi, but everyone else managed to get along just fine without them.

Why it matters: India and the US emerged as the winners from this year’s summit, with both countries advancing some of their own priorities while holding the American-led bloc together on some contentious issues. 

  • The US struck a deal with the EU, India, and Middle Eastern countries to build a rail and shipping infrastructure network for trade between the regions, a rival to China’s Belt and Road initiative that’s expanded that country’s influence in Africa and Asia.

  • India, meanwhile, secured its position as a broker between the West and the Global South, managing to negotiate an eleventh-hour joint statement on Russia’s war in Ukraine that many observers believed would not happen at all.

Zoom out: China’s strategy of minimizing the summit—Xi Jinping chose to skip it altogether—may have backfired, alienating itself from India while bringing the rest of the bloc closer together. 

  • A think tank affiliated with the Chinese government attacked India for “sabotaging the cooperative atmosphere” of the meeting.

Yes, but: Finding consensus among the group’s members came at the cost of abandoning an explicit condemnation of Russia in the summit’s joint declaration, an outcome that Ukraine condemned.

Bottom line: The US sees India—now the world’s most populous country—as a key partner to counterbalance China. This year’s G20 showed they’re willing to compromise on other priorities, including Ukraine, for the sake of that relationship.—TS