The Chinese leader sent his foreign minister instead, called Wang Yi, who will negotiate with world leaders on Xi’s behalf. The political move immediately places Xi Jinping as ranked above all other premieres, as they must negotiate at a lower level of power, with China’s foreign minister. Speaking to Express.co.uk Anders Corr, principal at Corr Analytics said: “If Wang Yi wants to talk climate, he should be invited to do so with foreign ministers and the Secretary of State, but not be allowed to jump the rung into a meeting directly with British, European, American, Japanese, Indian, and allied heads of state.
“China’s foreign ministry promised that Xi would dial in to deliver an ‘important speech’ to participants at Rome, but this puts him at a higher level than them, not as an equal negotiator.
“This arrangement, from a protocol perspective, was apparently a major and unfortunate advance concession to China that was highly symbolic in putting Xi above the rest of the world leaders.
“They are apparently so desperate for his participation that they allowed this to happen.
“He is successfully using China’s linchpin ability to scuttle climate agreements to his advantage.
Mr Corr said that it was a mistake for world leaders to agree to conduct COP26 negotiations with Xi Jinping through the proxy of his emissary, Wang Yi.
The geopolitics expert added that this would give the Chinese president an advantage where Beijing could question and “find the bottom line” on carbon emission commitments from the premier international power brokers, but in turn, world leaders would be held at a distance from knowing the full intentions of the Chinese premier.
He said: “Xi’s decision not to attend COP26 is likely multi-causal, from continued social distancing due to COVID-19 to maintaining his power in Beijing, and avoidance of human rights and environmental criticism abroad, where he has far less control of his surroundings.
“What is not often mentioned is that by sending Wang Yi in his stead for negotiations directly with European and American heads of state, Xi has successfully utilised a standard bargaining tactic that puts him at an advantage.
Instead of attending the climate change summit, the Chinese president called on developed countries to “provide support to help developing countries do better” in dealing with the climate crisis.
The Chinese premier wrote a statement to the Cop26 climate conference that fails to make any new significant pledges from his nation.
He instead urged all parties to take stronger actions to “jointly tackle the climate challenge”.
The leader of China’s politburo said his country would “speed up the green and low-carbon energy transition, vigorously develop renewable energy, and plan and build large wind and photovoltaic power stations”.