In 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping spent only two days abroad, with his sole trip being to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in March. This represents the shortest amount of time he has spent overseas in the first half of a year since assuming power, excluding the pandemic.
In 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping spent only two days abroad, with his sole trip being to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin. This represents a significant reduction in his overseas travel compared to previous years, particularly before the Covid-19 pandemic. In the past, Xi traveled more frequently and for longer durations than his US counterpart, former President Donald Trump.
Now, Xi has been having foreign dignitaries come to Beijing to meet him instead. He has met representatives from 36 countries in the Chinese capital so far this year, a decline from his pre-pandemic average. This reduced face-time with global leaders could potentially hinder China’s ability to compete with the US for global influence, especially as international perceptions of China’s foreign policy are souring.
There are several reasons speculated for this change in Xi’s travel pattern. Firstly, he may have more pressing domestic priorities to address, such as economic challenges, political scandals, and leadership changes. Secondly, Xi’s centralization of power means he needs to be present to deal with critical issues. Additionally, scheduling considerations and China’s worsening global image may also be contributing factors.
Xi was expected to resume a more active global schedule after the pandemic-related restrictions were lifted in early 2023. However, his international travel has remained limited. Some upcoming international summits might provide opportunities for him to interact with other world leaders, but his attendance at certain events could be influenced by geopolitical considerations.
The Belt and Road Initiative summit in October is one such significant event. While it attracted many world leaders in the past, this time, its guest list remains uncertain. European nations, in particular, seem more cautious about engaging with China due to various issues, including human rights concerns and doubts about China’s intentions.
Overall, Xi’s third term as President seems to prioritize securing his ruling internally, and he may expect other world leaders to visit China rather than extensively traveling abroad himself.