SCO summit expected to reject pursuit of ‘unilateralism’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in a two-day summit of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the weekend, riding on the bonhomie generated by the Wuhan informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and an extended one-on-one dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
“When we were preparing for the summit, we asked the Prime Minister, whether he would like to have another separate meeting with President Xi on the sidelines of the SCO summit, so soon after an intensive late April dialogue in Wuhan. Mr. Modi’s answer was an emphatic yes,” an official source, who did not wish to be named, told The Media.
The official said that Mr. Modi’s talks in Sochi with President Putin were also “highly important.”
Russia, China and India were likely to emerge as the core of the SCO, after New Delhi and Islamabad joined the grouping last year, and would be participating as full SCO members for the first time in Qingdao. But it was also imperative that the importance of the four Central Asian Republics — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — were not undermined in the expanded SCO, the official observed.
In an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) ahead of the Qingdao summit, India’s ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale elaborated on the importance of the Wuhan summit.
He said, “As a result of their discussions in Wuhan, the two leaders have arrived at … the first and most important consensus [which] is that India and China are partners in progress and economic development. The second most important consensus is that there are many more commonalities than differences… Of course, there are some differences but we will also work at the differences to ensure that the two countries will continue to progress together.”
Trump’s doctrine gives important subtext to Wuhan meet
Analysts point out that the “America first” doctrine of United States President Donald Trump, which was getting translated into rising protectionism and threat of trade wars, had provided an important subtext to the Wuhan summit.
In his interview, Mr. Bambawale was emphatic that the SCO summit would reject anti-globalisation and pursuit of “unilateralism.” “I think one of the important points that will come out is that unilateralism is not necessary in today’s world. Multilateralism, learning to live with each other, is the important message, which will come from Qingdao,” he said.
He stressed that India fully backed the “Shanghai spirit,” of inclusivity and collaboration, despite differences in political systems among the member states.
“The Shanghai spirit is very important. And the Shanghai spirit stands for multipolarity, for countries with different systems to live together; to have peaceful coexistence and we believe that the message that will come out of the Qingdao summit is that important big countries that are members of the SCO can peacefully coexist despite differences in their systems, and that they can work together,” he said.
RATS to counter terror
Counterterrorism has been a forte of the SCO, which had established the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), as a permanent institution in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. With the growing threat from Islamic State (IS), RATS was expected to play an increasingly important counter-terrorism role in the future.
Between 2013-2017, RATS has become the nucleus of a counter-terrorism drive, which helped thwart over 600 terror plots, and eliminate more than 500 training bases, said Rashid Alimov, Secretary General of the SCO, in an interview with Tass.
He pointed out that the Qingdao summit was expected to approve a three-year counter-terrorism plan, which would be tuned with the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
He said that in Qingdao, the participating heads would work out an understanding on better managing the vast mineral resources of the SCO members, in tune with the grouping’s expanding focus on the collective economic development.
With the addition of the India and Pakistan in its ranks, the Qingdao summit “will usher in a new stage of the SCO’s development,” and highlight the grouping’s “growing role and importance in global affairs,” he added.