INDIA concluded a successful presidency as it wrapped up the 23rd Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Leaders’ Summit with the assertion that expansionist manoeuvres of China will not be allowed.
The host country refused to sign on the paragraph in the New Delhi Declaration supporting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of China President Xi Jinping. It was the only country to do so.
A similar thing had happened during the Samarkand Declaration in 2022 as well when India had refused to sign on the paragraph. India has always opposed the BRI, as it says the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor violates India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
Upholding SCO Charter
“Strong connectivity is crucial for the progress of any region. Better connectivity not only enhances mutual trade but also fosters mutual trust. However, in these efforts, it is essential to uphold the basic principles of the SCO Charter, particularly respecting the sovereignty and regional integrity of the Member States,” stated Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Summit on July 4.
BRI is a huge array of development and investment initiatives devised to link East Asia and Europe by laying out required infrastructure across the region. Since its launch in 2013, the project has expanded to Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, thereby expanding China’s economic and political influence.
But the Dragon is wary of India’s growing influence in world affairs. It has made its unease known that the Elephant may throw a spanner in its expansionist intention.
India’s global role
Thus, the debate is now heating up over India’s new role in the China-dominated grouping.
Beijing hopes that the newly inducted member, Iran, will help it counter New Delhi. The other members in the grouping include Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Incidentally, a road joining China to Pakistan passes through Indian territory that is being illegally held by China.
“The SCO represents approximately 40 per cent of the world’s population and nearly one-third of the global economy. Therefore, it is our shared responsibility to understand each other’s needs and sensitivities. To resolve all challenges through better cooperation and coordination, and make constant efforts for the well-being of our people,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Summit.
India’s association with the SCO began in 2005 as an Observer country. In 2017, it became a full Member State at the Astana Summit in Kazakhstan.