Asian leaders clash over Belt and Road at SCO summit

Asian leaders clash over Belt and Road at SCO summit


Isabelle Meere, Content Producer

President Xi Jinping hosted the 18th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) over the weekend, welcoming Asian leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As the G7 ended in disunity among western world leaders, the SCO ended with leaders stressing the importance of ‘developing the multilateral trade system,’ and signing the Qingdao joint declaration, reports CNN.

There were, however, some disagreements between the SCO members, especially between India, China and Pakistan over the Belt and Road initiative. India did not sign the section of the Qingdao joint declaration that related to the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting its opposition to the China-Pakistan economic corridor, according to The Indian Express.

The other prominent economic issue discussed was the Iran Nuclear Deal, where President Putin said the US decision to withdraw would ‘destabilise the situation’. Al Jazeera also quotes Putin as saying he was willing to meet US President Donald Trump ‘as soon as the American side is ready,’ after the US suggested that he G7 should re-admit Russia.

The SCO grouping – founded in 2001 – consists of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Iran with observer status. It includes both of the world’s fastest growing economies and convenes to discuss political, economic and security issues.

State run media in China publicised the event as an alternative to the G7 and highlighted the SCO’s opposition to trade protectionism, in contrast to rising unilateralism and protectionism from other global players.

According to analysts, the China-hosted summit is more about ‘pomp’ than real policy dialogue. Moreover, there are serious questions as to whether China can hold itself out to be a bastion of global free trade, considering its own trade practices. Nevertheless, it highlights the pivotal and growing role for China within the region, and the role of Asia on a global stage.