SCO Virtual Summit: Respect Territorial Integrity, Says PM Modi

India and China have previously held negotiations to diffuse the five-month standoff but haven’t had much success. 

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) virtual summit. This is will be the first time PM Modi will interact with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, since the India-China border standoff in eastern Ladakh in May.

Speaking on the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Modi said: “In this very difficult time of the unprecedented epidemic, India's pharma industry has sent essential medicines to more than 150 countries. As the world's largest vaccine producing country, India will use its vaccine production and distribution capacity to help the entire humanity in fighting this crisis.”

Speaking further on territorial integrity, the Prime Minister said that to deepen connectivity among nations, “it is necessary to go ahead with the basic principles of respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Without naming any country, the Prime Minister said that attempts are being made to bring bilateral issues to the SCO agenda, where his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping were in attendance.

“It is unfortunate that repeated attempts are being made to unnecessarily bring bilateral issues to the SCO agenda, which violate the SCO Charter and Shanghai Spirit. Such efforts are contrary to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that defines SCO.”
Prime Minister Naarendra Modi

Calling for a “reformed multilateralism” that reflects today’s global realities, PM Modi said that countries also discussed topics such as “expectations of all stakeholders, contemporary challenges, and human welfare”.

Putin Hosts SCO Summit

The SCO summit is being hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and in a first will be held virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SCO is an intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 with the goal to strengthen relations and trust among member states.

“The prime minister will lead the Indian delegation to the 20th Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State, which will be held in the virtual format on 10 November. This is the third meeting where we will be participating as full members,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on 6 November, Friday, reported The Print.


Modi and Xi will Meet on 4 Occasions in November

Modi will also meet with the Chinese President, Xi for the ASEAN Summit scheduled to be held from 13-15 November, chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc; the BRICS meeting on 17 November, and the G-20 Summit on 21-22 November. The two leaders last shared a platform on 26 March at the virtual G-20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia and have met at least 18 times in the last six years, reported The Indian Express.


No Progress on Disengagement

“It has been five months since the standoff began, and in Moscow last month, the foreign ministers adopted a five-pronged approach to disengage and de-escalate early,” sources told The Indian Express. “But there has been no progress in disengagement since then, although there has been no escalation either. We will have to see if the intent to disengage is there or not in the coming weeks.”

There have been eight rounds of military talks, six rounds of diplomatic talks and at least one face-to-face meeting between the Indian and Chinese NSAs, Defence ministers and External Affairs ministers reported The Indian Express.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, however, had meetings with their counterparts in the Chinese Government, Wei Fenghe and Wang Yi respectively but the five-month long border stand-off has still not been fully resolved. The countries want to begin de-escalation of forces as soon as possible as soldiers were exposed to minus 20 degrees Celsius in Eastern Ladakh, Line of Actual Control (LAC).


So far both the countries have agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible.

Officials told The Indian Express chances of a border thaw at the SCO meeting are “bleak”, given the hard positions the two sides have taken. The virtual format doesn’t allow the leaders to retreat for informal negotiations unlike the past summits.

(With inputs from The Indian Express, Scroll, Deccan Herald, The Print and the SCO official website)

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