Chinese President Xi Jinping's lack of face time with world leaders signals a turn inward on domestic issues and a reluctance to compromise on the global stage, The New York Times reported.
"When the presidents and prime ministers of the Group of 20 nations meet in Rome this weekend, China's leader, Xi Jinping, won't be among them. Nor is he expected at the climate talks next week in Glasgow, where China's commitment to curbing carbon emissions is seen as crucial to help blunt the dire consequences of climate change. He has yet to meet US President Joe Biden in person and seems unlikely to any time soon", the report said.
"Mr Xi has not left China in 21 months - and counting.
The ostensible reason for Xi's lack of foreign travel is Covid-19, though officials have not said so explicitly. It is also a calculation that has reinforced a deeper shift in China's foreign and domestic policy", the report added.
China, under Xi, no longer feels compelled to cooperate - or at least be seen as cooperating - with the United States and its allies on anything other than its own terms, NYT reported.
Still, Xi's recent absence from the global stage has complicated China's ambition to position itself as an alternative to American leadership. And it has coincided with, some say contributed to, a sharp deterioration in the country's relations with much of the rest of the world, the report added.
"Instead, China has turned inward, with officials preoccupied with protecting Xi's health and internal political machinations, including a Communist Party Congress next year where he is expected to claim another five years as the country's leader. As a result, face-to-face diplomacy is a lower priority than it was in Xi's first years in office", NYT said.
"There is a bunker mentality in China right now," said Noah Barkin, who follows China for the research firm Rhodium Group.