Samarkand Summit Xi-Modi Presence Opens Door For Fruitful Dialogue

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Dr. Buddhi  Prasad Sharma

After two years of the border scuffles of May 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the first time physically attended the same forum on the occasion of 22nd Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Samarkand city, Uzbekistan, held recently. Now, the international politics is hugely divided, and existing international order seems weakening due to the discriminatory diplomatic practices of the US-led West. At this complex context, leaders of the two most populous countries of the planet, China and India, sent a positive message of dialogue, communication and cooperation for the sake of global peace, stability and security. Though many experts still cast doubt that China-India will reduce tension soon, most have expressed hopefulness and taken the Samarkand platform as a first high-level step for the normalisation of the relations. 

Strong platform

By December, India will take presidency of SCO. Members of SCO have given full support to India to host the SCO 2023 Summit. SCO has now become a strong platform for promoting peace, security and raising voice for a new global order compatible for a new changing scenario of the global context. Samarkand declaration has reiterated a democratic, representative, just and equitable global order. Still, a section of the Western experts took the SCO as a security gathering. It is their complete misunderstanding and lack of knowledge. SCO now is a broad international forum to discuss, contribute and communicate on the major regional and global agendas. Samarkand summit also shows that this forum is actively working to initiate collective effort for global common agendas. 

China and India have taken a balanced approach on Russia-Ukraine war. Both countries have urged the conflicting parties to find a solution through dialogue. In the beginning while discussing the Samarkand Summit, many Western analysts viewed that President Xi will directly support Putin’s action on Ukraine issue. But later, they highlighted that Xi showed very matured, balanced and comprehensive posture and indirectly advised Russian President Vladimir Putin to work for peace and resolution. On the other hand, Prime Minister Modi, in his bilateral meeting with Putin, was reported to have advised Putin to end the war and take important step for peace. “These are not the days for war”, PM Modi was quoted as having told Putin. 

Though China and India have been experiencing sour relationship since border skirmishes of May 2020, the two nations are in a continuous discussion through multiple regional and global forums. Meeting of foreign ministers of both countries in multiple times have played significant role to gradually normalise the relations and continue multiple levels of cooperation. Diplomatically, India is playing a tough game to maintain bilateral relations with all major powers. India’s close bilateral relationship with the US and Russia demonstrate that India has taken a long-term strategy in practising the diplomacy. Ignoring the US pressure, India has been buying a huge amount of petroleum products from Russia. Analysts say that due to the then Soviet Union’s support to India at the critical time of Cold War, India won’t forget and can’t ignore Russia on bilateral relations. India has been one of the big buyers of Russia’s military equipment as well. 

Through the SCO forum, China and India have reiterated commitment against terrorism. China has also been fighting terrorism and separatism for a long time. The nation has effectively implemented security policy to counter terrorism and maintain order. Similarly, India is also working hard to counter extremist groups in some regions. Their joint commitment to fighting terrorism will have a significant role in taking collective action for addressing security challenges in the entire region. 

The strength of SCO is that it has succeeded in building consensus among diverse views and perspectives. It brings various nations to a negotiation table, holds dialogue with different civilisations to promote the spirit of collectivism, cooperation and solidarity in the world. While the US seems to be aggressively coming up with the Cold War mentality and a zero-sum game against China and Russia, SCO has been working hard to contribute for peace, security and prosperity in the world. It has sent a strong message of solidarity and cooperation to deal with major challenges the world is now facing. 

Win-win collaboration

While the world is reeling from multiple challenges, including COVID-19, the fruitful relationship between major economic powers, China and India, is necessary, and their cordial rapprochement will have strong message to the global community for contributing to peace, prosperity and security. Politically diverse nations such as China and India need to reframe their bilateral relationship as per new changing geopolitical and geostrategic contexts, and like before May 2020, show collective vision and consensus to contribute to making a better world. While SCO summit has opened the door for a collective vision, it has raised hope that the upcoming SCO summit in India will create further favourable situation for the normalisation of relations, particularly between China and India, and harness solidarity based on win-win collaboration. The Samarkand Summit has indeed opened the door for the two nations to enhance political relations and foster communication to sort out the existing tough bilateral issues. 

(Dr. Sharma is a Non-Resident Fellow at Global Engagement Academy, Shandong University, China) 

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