While the heads of seven of the biggest economies in the world met in Quebec for the G7 summit in a tense and awkward setting owing to economic sanctions by the US on the other six countries, leaders of some of the world’s fastest growing economies attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao in a much more cordial and positive setting. A general theme of unity among the eight member nations – India became a full member this year – prevailed during the summit with discussions on regional security challenges and economic connectivity. With regards to Pak-China ties Xi Jinping reiterated his country’s commitment to Pakistan as an ‘all-weather strategic cooperative’ partner – something that China has displayed in recent months by providing crucial financial support to beef up our dwindling foreign exchange reserves. There were praises for Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism as well but the real test will be the FATF meeting in a few weeks time where Pakistan will need all the support it can get from China after it withdrew its objection to our nomination in the grey list earlier in the year.
Bilateral trade between India and China reached $84.4 billion last year and if discussions at the summit between the two economic powerhouses are any indication this figure is bound to reach the $100 billion target set for 2020. A branch of China’s state owned bank would be allowed to open in Mumbai while Xi Jinping accepted an invitation to attend an informal summit in India next year. These developments further bolster ties between the two countries that became strained after a border dispute last year. Better relations with China before India’s general elections in 2019 are imperative for Modi to portray stability and during his reelection campaign.
After pulling out of the Iran deal and adopting an increasingly nationalistic anti-globalisation policy US president Trump has managed to make enemies with the best of allies. In sharp contrast the SCO summit was a far cry from such isolation; once a hallmark of the very nations that now host this summit.