The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held its 19th Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyz in June 2019. Following the recently re-elected Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, the affirmed “close personal friendship” between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of China, Xi Jinping. As well as the ongoing US-led trade war on China, this year’s summit is set to be of extreme importance for the future of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).
Historically, India has had a moot relationship with China due to the 1962 Sino-Indian Border Conflict. However, relations have dramatically changed between the two nations. While trade is projected to go beyond USD 100 billion, Chinese technology companies such as Xiaomi and Oppo are household names in India. Over 100 Indian companies have settled in mainland China in multiple sectors. Indian youth, the largest youth population (15-34 years old) in the world, at 422 million, symbolises the opportunity for a strong partnership with China, the important role they will have to achieve their country’s economic goals. The turning point occurred in 2018’s informal summit between the Indian and Chinese leaders which saw both countries become allies. Since then, the leaders met on four separate occasions and Prime Minister Modi committed to placing China at the top of India’s foreign policy.
On the same token, President Jinping and President Putin have reached a historical position in their relationship based on mutual trust and appreciation. The two leaders have met 30 times in the past six years, settled border disputes, increased economic cooperation, to increase bilateral trade to USD 200 billion by 2024 which surpasses their current mark of USD 108 billion. The two leaders also see eye-to-eye on several geopolitical challenges and are in talks to merge BRI with Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership above the confirmed USD 400 billion Siberian gas pipeline. In fact, in the wake of the US-led trade war, Russia is the destination for Chinese companies to void US tariffs. So much so that Huawei and Russian telecommunications company Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) are set to develop 5G in Russia. Thus, there is a need for the three nations, Russia-India-China (RIC), to cooperate in all decisions which relate to development - whether political or economic. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India, the continuing standoff between the US and China will be the foremost talking point as it is likely that they will collaborate with Russia and China in voicing their concerns about US trade protectionism if Prime Minister Modi truly wants to affirm India’s future. Furthermore, the SCO Summit is set to be a friendly gathering to discuss improved relations, global security, trade, and investments.