Top Chinese diplomat says nobody can break up the G-20 bloc

A photo from Feb 17, 2022, shows the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Jakarta. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said no one has the power to split up the Group of 20 (G-20), hitting back at suggestions Russia should be booted for invading Ukraine.

Mr Wang stressed in a meeting with Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi that the bloc "should focus on coordination of macroeconomic policies, and that it should not be politicised", the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday (April 1).

Indonesia holds the G-20's rotating presidency. The statement added that the pair also discussed the situation in Ukraine at their meeting Thursday in Tunxi, in the eastern province of Anhui, where Mr Wang has been sitting down with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other diplomats for talks on issues such as Afghanistan. The US sent a lower level envoy.

Nations that have been punishing Russia with sanctions and other measures have floated the idea of ejecting Moscow from the G-20, which since 2008 has served as the major international council for discussing economic matters by holding annual gatherings of the world's top leaders.

China has expressed opposition to such a move before, but Mr Wang's comments mark the Asian nation's strongest statement yet on the matter.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for talks over whether Russia should be excluded from the grouping, as part of broader efforts turn President Vladimir Putin into an international pariah for the invasion.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said the US doesn't "believe it can be business as usual" with Russia and international organisations like the G-20, and that the Biden administration would "consult with our allies and partners around the world" on the issue.

While officials haven't reached any conclusions, it's likely that US and allied leaders would refuse to attend the Indonesia summit if Mr Putin does, one person familiar with the matter said. The person asked not to be identified because the discussions are preliminary.

Mr Putin plans to attend the G-20 gathering hosted by Indonesia later this year, Moscow's ambassador to Jakarta, Ms Lyudmila Vorobieva, has said, adding that Russia appreciated Indonesia for not bowing to pressure.

Russia was suspended from the Group of Eight industrial countries in 2014 after Mr Putin's annexation of Crimea and permanently withdrew from the inter-governmental organisation in 2017.

Removal from the G-20, which includes many developing economies, requires the bloc's consensus.

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