Virtual handshake between Modi and Xi during SCO summit being hosted by India on July 4

China, which has talked about “mutual trust” in Asia following the recent high-profile visit of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to the United States of America, at the invitation of President Joe Biden, will have President Xi Jinping take part virtually in the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meet to be hosted by India on July 4.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at an informal India-China meet in Mamallapuram, near Chennai, in October 2019. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Kanthan2030

According to an official announcement today by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, the 23rd meeting of the SCO Council of Heads on July 4 will be attended virtually by President Xi Jinping at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The spokesperson said that President Xi would “deliver important remarks”. This is the first official announcement about Xi’s participation in the SCO summit being hosted by India.

The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

It was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

India holds the rotating presidency of the organisation this year. Ahead of the summit, to be held for the first time under India’s presidency, India on Tuesday inaugurated an exquisitely designed ‘New Delhi Hall’ at the SCO Secretariat in Beijing. The SCO’s six co-founding members — Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — already have their halls highlighting their cultures and unique features.

The splendid 'New Delhi Hall' being inaugurated at the SCO Secretariat in Beijing. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@EOIBeijing

Virtually inaugurating the ‘New Delhi Hall’, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that it was conceived to be a “mini-India”, showcasing various facets of Indian culture.

“To make you visualise the depth of India’s artistic tradition and cultural identity, the Hall has been designed with exquisite patterns and motifs representing the rich architectural craftsmanship found throughout India,” he said.

Last year, the in-person SCO summit took place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, and it was attended by all top leaders of the grouping, including Prime Minister Modi, President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In September, India will host the G20 summit, for which it is going to invite Xi and Putin, besides other leaders of the bloc.

Theme of this year’s SCO summit is ‘Towards a SECURE SCO’

The SECURE acronym was coined by Prime Minister Modi at the 2018 SCO summit and it stands for Security; Economy and Trade; Connectivity; Unity; Respect for Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity; and Environment. These themes have been highlighted during India’s chairmanship of the SCO.