China Holds Shanghai Cooperation Organization Meeting Opposite G7 Summit

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is set to hold its 18th annual summit in the city of Qingdao this weekend
AFP

While President Donald Trump and Western leaders attend an exceptionally tense G7 summit in Quebec this weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin will be at the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in China, an event Korea Joongang Daily sees as effectively a “Belt and Road” show to tout China’s huge international infrastructure project.

The SCO meeting is concerned with both security and economic cooperation, so terrorism and North Korea’s nuclear program will probably be topics on the agenda. India, which recently joined the SCO, might have a few words to say about China’s behavior in contested territory.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that he is “excited to lead the Indian delegation for our first-ever meeting of the Council as a full member,” and looks forward to “discussing a wide range of subjects” with other member states.

The other new member state this year is Pakistan, a country India has held numerous exciting discussions with over the years. China is gambling its diplomatic credibility on the chance it can facilitate better relations between India and Pakistan at the SCO summit.

India signaled in advance of the meeting that it will not compromise its sovereignty by reconsidering its opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an infrastructure project that would pass through land in Kashmir occupied by Pakistan but claimed by India.

Korea Joongang Daily quotes Chinese media that in addition to issuing a joint declaration, participants will sign “more than 10 agreements on security, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.”

Asia Times anticipates this year’s SCO meeting could be much more successful than the 17 previous outings because relations between Russia and China have improved so dramatically. A notable low point in that relationship occurred in 2014 when the SCO refused to endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Russia has also been wary of Chinese economic and political power expanding into Russia’s sphere of influence in Eurasia.

One goal China might pursue at this year’s SCO is establishing deeper ties with Iran, which will attend the summit as an observer. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been seeking a bilateral meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, hoping to capitalize on Iranian estrangement from the G7 nations after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran applied for full SCO membership in 2008 but was denied on the grounds that it was under U.N. sanctions, an obstacle alleviated by President Obama’s nuclear deal in 2015.

 

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