Virtual hosting of the SCO summit by India today

4 July, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava

SCO Summit National

India will be discussing key issues in the SCO Summit such as Afghanistan, Ukraine conflict, and enhanced cooperation among member countries.

India will be hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit virtually today. This summit will feature the participation of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will serve as the meeting’s chair. Terrorism, regional security, and prosperity are among the key topics that are anticipated to be on the agenda. SCO-SECURE, the acronym created by Prime Minister Modi at the 2018 SCO Qingdao Summit is serving as the inspiration for India’s SCO chairship.

Its initials stand for S—security—, E—economic development—, C—connectivity—, U—unity—, R—respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty—, and E—environmental protection.

Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the Virtual SCO Summit

This week’s summit will also feature participation from Russian President Vladimir Putin. This comes at an important juncture as the Russia-Ukraine war has completed one year. India has refrained from condemning Russia on various forums, however, it did condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“This is not the era of war,” Prime Minister Modi remarked in a side conversation with President Putin during the SCO summit in Uzbekistan last year. This phrase was included in the G20 communique, which India presided over at the time.

On June 30, PM Modi engaged in a phone discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin, wherein they deliberated upon matters of bilateral collaboration, encompassing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and G20.

Iran, Belarus and Mongolia invited to SCO Summit as Observer States

The Summit is open to all SCO members, including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Furthermore, Observer States invitations have been extended to Iran, Belarus, and Mongolia. Consistent with the SCO’s customary practice, Turkmenistan has also received an invitation as the Chair’s guest. Notably, the heads of the Secretariat and the SCO RATS will be in attendance as well.

A significant focal point of the summit is the expressed intent of Pakistan and China to partake in the event. Pakistan, despite its global isolation due to allegations of harboring terrorists, is slated to be present at the summit.

There has been a continuing standoff and significant force buildup at Indian positions on the LAC in eastern Ladakh since Chinese attack at Galwan in 2020. The Indian side has also sent out a large number of troops and built up their infrastructure quickly.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), PM Modi stated that “peace and tranquility in the border areas is essential” for “normal bilateral ties” with China before his travel to the US. “We have a core belief in respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, observing the rule of law and peaceful resolution of differences and disputes. At the same time, India is fully prepared and committed to protecting its sovereignty and dignity,” PM Modi told the US Daily in an interview.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif to attend virtual SCO Summit

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning stated that President Jinping will participate in the virtual SCO summit hosted by India. Jinping is expected to deliver significant remarks during the meeting, joining other leaders in setting the trajectory for the organization’s future development.

At the SCO meeting, Shehbaz Sharif will also take part. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, according to the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two leaders’ presence coincides with China’s opposition to a United Nations resolution that would have designated Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Sajid Mir as a global terrorist, a move that was also sharply criticised by New Delhi. Mir is wanted for his alleged involvement in the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

India joined SCO in 2017, 1st chairmanship of SCO Summit in September 2022

In 2005, India joined the SCO as an observer and gained full membership at the Astana Summit in 2017, signifying a significant milestone in its association with the Organization. Over the past six years, India has actively and constructively engaged in all SCO endeavors. Moreover, at the September 2022 SCO Summit in Samarkand, India assumed the chairmanship for the first time, succeeding Uzbekistan.

Under India’s presidency, the SCO has witnessed remarkable advancements in the depth and breadth of exchanges and interactions across various sectors. Notably, India introduced five new pillars and areas of focus for cooperation within the SCO, including startups and innovation, traditional medicine, digital inclusion, youth empowerment, and the preservation of shared Buddhist heritage.

India led the creation of two new SCO mechanisms, namely the Experts Working Group on Traditional Medicine and the Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation.