Meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation heads scheduled to be held

Leaders from eight countries will meet virtually today for the 20th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council

Man looks at the Pudong financial district of Shanghai

Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria

Leaders from eight countries will meet virtually today for the 20th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Heads of State.

The SCO members—China, India, Russia, Pakistan and four Central Asian states—represent approximately 42% of the world’s population and 20% of global GDP. The bloc is perceived as a counterweight to NATO and is primarily concerned with issues pertaining to trans-regional security.

However, this year, rather than looking to external issues, the SCO is more likely to address internal differences—namely, the six-month border standoff between India and China over the Indian-administered territory of Ladakh. Just last week, military leaders from Beijing and New Delhi met to discuss the ongoing stalemate along the region’s Line of Actual Control. While both sides pledged to maintain a dialogue through diplomatic and military channels, delegates were unable to reach a consensus.

Genuine or exaggerated, expect the affirmations resulting from today’s SCO meeting to promote inter-member unity and a resolution to the border dispute. Under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chairmanship, anticipate Russia to project itself as a broker, despite India and China’s failure to settle the border standoff through backdoor channels. Whether or not a Russian resolution is forthcoming remains to be seen.