Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin come to the table: What to expect from crucial SCO summit?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping will be face-to-face at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan on 15 and 16 September.

This will be the Chinese premier’s first overseas visit since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago.

Confirming Xi’s visit to the neighbouring Central Asian nation, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said he will travel to Uzbekistan from 14 to 16 September to participate in the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO in the Uzbek city of Samarkand.

Xi will also make a state visit to Kazakhstan.

Besides Modi and Xi, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi are also expected to mark their presence at the summit.

What can be anticipated at the SCO summit 2022? What significance does it hold?

Let’s examine this in detail:

What is SCO?

Founded in Shanghai on 15 June 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of eight Member States– China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The SCO also includes Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia, termed as the Observer States with the aim to attain full membership.

In 2021, it was decided to begin the accession process of Iran to the SCO as a full member.

The organisation also recognises ‘Dialogue Partners’– Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The SCO focuses on several issues like regional security, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism, religious extremism as well as regional development, says Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA).

The SCO, the eight-member economic and security bloc that China and Russia dominate, accounts for approximately 60 per cent of the area of Eurasia, 40 per cent of the global population, and over 30 per cent of world GDP, notes NDTV.

Modi at SCO summit

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Sunday that Modi will visit Uzbekistan on 15-16 September.

Modi is also likely to hold multiple bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the crucial SCO summit.

“At the invitation of the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Samarkand, Uzbekistan on 15-16 September 2022 to attend the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),” MEA said in a statement, as per ANI.

A meeting between Modi and Uzbekistan president Mirziyoyev is certain, Indian Express reported.

Even though there is no official yet, sources told Indian Express that the Indian prime minister may have bilateral meetings with Putin and Raisi.

Modi and Xi will meet in person after their meeting at Brasília on the sidelines of the 2019 BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit.

Their meet will after India and China’s disengagement from one of the last friction points of the Gogra-Hotsprings area at Patrol Point 15 in eastern Ladakh, which can lead to de-escalation of tensions on the border between the two countries.

Whether or not Modi will convene a bilateral meeting with his Pakistan counterpart remains to be seen.

Xi-Putin meet

As per Russian officials, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will have a bilateral engagement at the SCO meeting, PTI reported.

The two leaders last met in Beijing in January, weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At the time, they said that their relationship had “no limits”.

Why is SCO summit 2022 significant?

The leaders are expected to review the SCO’s activities over the last two decades during the summit and also deliberate on the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation, ANI reported.

Moreover, regional and global issues can also feature when the members come to the table.

The summit comes amid the six-month-old Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, which prompted heavy sanctions from the West on Moscow.

As China has refused to condemn Russia’s war with Ukraine, India has maintained its diplomatic stance and called for “immediate cessation of hostilities” while avoiding a full-scale censure of Russia.

After the 22nd summit, India will take charge of the rotational presidency of the influential grouping of Central Asian Republics, which it will hold till September 2023.

The SCO summit comes ahead of Communist Party’s congress where Xi  is expected to get a third five-year term as president, reported The Associated Press (AP).

Xi is also hoping to strengthen ties with Russia in the aftermath of China’s widening rift with the United States.

With inputs from agencies

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