In striking contrast with G7, Shanghai summit focuses on ‘unity’

Leaders of member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Chinese President Xi Jinping (4-R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (5-R), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (3-R), Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (3-L), Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (2-R), Kurgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (2-L), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L), Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain (R) walk to their first working session during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit 2018 summit in Qingdao, China, 10 June 2018. [Sergei Chirikov/EPA/EFE]

Chinese President Xi Jingping has praised the “unity” of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement (SCO) at the opening ceremony of the organization’s summit in the coastal Chinese city of Quingdao.

Xi said that the SCO “focuses on seeking common ground while setting aside differences and pursuing mutually beneficial cooperation.” The main working day of the summit was yesterday (10 June).

The SCO is led by China and Russia, and includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia have SCO observer status.

Ahead of the summit opening, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, to discuss the 2015 deal between Iran and leading world powers that restricted Iran’s nuclear program.

The United States recently withdrew from the agreement and Iran was seeking a commitment from China, Russia, and European signatories to uphold the deal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists that Moscow and Beijing had outlined a “road map” for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The comments come just days before a historic summit in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Putin also held a separate meeting with Xi and Mongolian President Khaltmaagin Battulga to discuss proposals to build oil and gas pipelines from Russia to China through Mongolia.

State-run Chinese newspapers on Monday crowed about a weekend meeting of a regional security bloc hosted by China, painting it as a harmonious, anti-protectionist counterpoint to the G7 summit in Canada that was marred by acrimony.

The Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s main newspaper, the People’s Daily, asked why the G7 had “ended in disarray” while the SCO summit was “full of enthusiasm and ambition”.

US-Canada dispute escalates after tense G7, Europeans criticise Trump

The United States and Canada swung sharply on Sunday (10 June) toward a diplomatic and trade crisis as top White House advisers lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a day after US President Trump called him “very dishonest and weak.”

“The key lies in that the Shanghai Spirit, featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, echoes the theme of the era, in which unilateralism can hardly prevail,” it said.

It said criticism of the G7 meeting and praise for the SCO summit marked “an important change”.

In the Canadian province of Quebec at the weekend, US President Donald Trump threw the G7’s efforts to show a united front into disorder by leaving early, backing out of a joint communique and taking aim at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The SCO meeting in China at the same time, meanwhile, set what the China Daily newspaper said was a good example for multilateral cooperation, offering a “new vision” for a more just and equitable world.

“Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and anti-globalization, the SCO’s opposition to trade protectionism in any form is especially encouraging,” the English-language daily in an editorial.

In a separate piece, the newspaper made the case for a united front against Trump after the G7 debacle.

“The G7 summit has served as another reminder that it is the Trump administration that is challenging the international rules-based order,” it said.

“Considering that the Trump administration has also instigated trade disputes with other countries such as China, the global backlash against Trump’s unilateralist tendencies is gaining momentum. The international community should rally and reject the self-oriented closed-door policies of the U.S.”

The SCO was launched in 2001 to combat radical Islam and other security concerns in China, Russia and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics. It added two new members, India and Pakistan, last year and Iran has been seeking entry.

The next SCO summit will be held in Kyrgyzstan in June 2019.

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