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SCO Summit 2023 

SCO Summit 2023
SCO Summit 2023

In News: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

Topic- SCO Summit 2023
  • Under India’s first-ever Chairmanship, the 23rd Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State was held in the virtual format.
    • India has taken over the chairmanship of the SCO from Uzbekistan after the SCO Summit in Samarkand in September 2022.
  • It was chaired by PM Modi and was attended by President Xi of China, PM Sharif of Pakistan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
  • The theme of India’s chair-ship of SCO- SECURE is derived from the acronym coined by PM Modi at 2018 SCO Qingdao Summit.
    • It stands for S: Security, E: Economic development, C: Connectivity, U: Unity, R: Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, E: Environmental protection.

Key Highlights Of The Summit

Topic- SCO Summit 2023
  • Virtual summit in place of in-person summit
    • One of the reasons cited for the virtual format was that given the current state of India’s relations with both China and Pakistan, the environment was not appropriate for an in-person meeting.
  • Summit statement
    • The New Delhi Declaration was issued at the end of the leaders’ summit which mainly talked about a “multi-polar” and “democratic order”.
    • India refused to sign off on the paragraph supporting Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
      • India had refused to sign on a similar formulation in the Samarkand Declaration of 2022 as well.
      • India has always opposed the BRI, because the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of the Initiative, violates India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
    • India also did not sign off on the SCO Economic Development Strategy for 2030, which had Beijing’s imprint.
      • The Economic Development Strategy for 2030, a proposition by the SCO, was designed to amplify economic cooperation between member countries.
      • The strategy aims to cultivate cooperation in key areas such as digital economy, transportation, finance, and energy.
      • India was the only member which did not sign the strategy document. It sensed a strong Chinese influence within the economic blueprint and hence, chose not to endorse it.
    • On terrorism, the New Delhi Declaration used language similar to that of the Samarkand Declaration.
      • It urged members to pay attention to preventing the spread of religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination, xenophobia, ideas of fascism and chauvinism.
    • There was no mention of the Ukraine war. The member states reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful settlement of disagreements and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultations.
    • Member Countries spoke about de-dollarization
      • Russian President said that Over 80 % of commercial transactions between Russia and China are made in Rubles and Yuan.
      • Chinese President Xi Jinping also pitched for SCO countries to conduct trade in local currencies.
    • Entry of Iran: During the summit, Iran formally became a member of the SCO.


Topic- SCO Summit 2023
  • Strategic Autonomy
    • India’s hosting of the SCO summit is seen as a sign of its strategic autonomy, which New Delhi guards zealously.
    • The fact that the SCO summit took place so soon after the PM’s visit to the US, is seen as a key marker of New Delhi’s diplomatic position in the context of the Ukraine war and the US-China polarisation.
  • Iran’s Entry into SCO
    • Iran’s entry will help Tehran in countering the perception that it has been isolated regionally.
    • India has developed the first phase of Chabahar Port. The project is important not just in the context of it being a gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia, but also to Europe via the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
    • India’s ties with Iran, which is close to Russia and China, are also a reiteration of its foreign policy which emphasises strategic autonomy.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
SCO Summit Structure
SCO Summit Structure
  • SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, created in June 2001 in Shanghai (China).
  • Founding members included Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan.
    • The five countries had come together to work on regional security, reduction of border troops, and terrorism in the post-Soviet era in 1996.
    • In 2001, the Shanghai Five inducted Uzbekistan into the group and named it the SCO outlining its principles in a charter that promoted what was called the Shanghai spirit of cooperation.
  • SCO represents approximately 42% of the world’s population, 22% of its land area and 20% of its GDP.
  • Official working languages: Chinese, Russian
  • SCO Secretariat: Beijing, China.

Members, Observers and dialogue partners

Topic- SCO Summit 2023
  • 8 member states– China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan.
    • India and Pakistan became full members at the Heads of State Council meet in Astana in 2017.
    • Iran to be the newest member (9th) of the SCO in 2023 under the chairmanship of India.
  • 4 Observer members – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia
    • In 2021, the procedure of granting Iran the status of Member State was started at the SCO Summit in Dushanbe.
    • In 2022, a similar procedure was launched for Belarus at the SCO Summit in Samarkand
  • 9 Dialogue Partners – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.
    • In 2022, the procedure for granting the status of Dialogue Partners to Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates was initiated at the SCO Summit in Samarkand.
India’s Association With SCO
Topic- SCO Summit 2023
  • India joined the SCO in 2005 as an observer country and became a full member of the group at the Astana Summit in 2017.
  • During its presidency, India created five new pillars and focus areas of cooperation in SCO Startups and Innovation, Traditional Medicine, Digital Inclusion, Youth Empowerment and Shared Buddhist Heritage.
  • Two new mechanisms in SCO — Special Working Group on Startups & Innovation and Experts Working Group on Traditional Medicine — were also created at India’s initiative.
  • Kashi / Varanasi was celebrated as the 1st SCO Tourist and Cultural Capital of SCO 2022-23.
Challenges Faced by India at SCO
  • SCO as a platform is seen by the West as an organization to forward Chinese interests.
  • Growing convergence with China and Russia will be another challenge for India.
  • Differences between India and Pakistan might hamper the functioning of the SCO.
  • All members of SCO have supported One Belt One Road (OBOR) except India. It might lead to isolation of India on this platform.
  • It would be difficult for India to overcome the burden of geography and make tangible gains in terms of trans-regional connectivity.

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