This is for the first time Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will interact in a virtual meeting today at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit since the ongoing border disputes in Ladakh in May.
Both Modi and XI will also participate on November 17 in the BRICS meeting and on November 21-22 will appear at the G-20 summit.
The leaders have met at least 18 times in the last six years and the last time they shared a platform was on March 26 when Saudi Arabia held a virtual G-20 gathering over the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, it is unlikely that the border issue is going to be solved during the meet looking at the stance taken by both the countries. Another drawback of the virtual format is that it doesn’t provide opportunity for leaders to have one-on-one conversations. It used to happen in the past SCO, BRICS and G-20 summits, where the leaders would meet in retreat sessions and engage in freewheeling discussions.
After a nearly three-month-long border stand-off in Doklam, it was resolved just ahead of the BRICS summit in September 2017 in Xiamen. The Chumar border stand-off in September 2014 was also resolved after Modi broached the issue with the visiting Chinese President in Ahmedabad.
However, it is different this time and chances are bleak of a potential resolution. There seems to be no sign of disengagement and de-escalation even after eight rounds of military talks, six rounds of diplomatic talks and at least one face-to-face meeting between the Indian and Chinese NSAs, Defence ministers and External Affairs ministers.
Although it is an encouraging sign that so far, the tension hasn’t mounted too much into something more ominous like a war. All thanks to the absence of escalatory moves on the border since External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed on a joint approach to defuse the situation.
Russia is chairing the SCO and BRICS summits. The SCO summit will also be attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.
According to sources, the summit will end with the adoption of a Moscow Declaration this year. There will also be SCO statements on issues like the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II, digital economy, Covid-19, cyber terrorism and the drug threat, revealed sources. There will also be decisions relating to major projects and initiatives in trade and economy.