Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to be making oblique criticism of both China and Pakistan when he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping shared a virtual stage for the first time since the bloody border conflict in the Himalayas this summer.
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit meeting on Tuesday, Modi spoke from New Delhi to seven other heads of state, including host Vladimir Putin, and urged the bloc to “respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Prime Minister also urged the Shanghai Pact partners to join him in further talks on eradicating economic and social suffering.
Modi, who called India “the world’s largest vaccine producing country”, vowed to help “all mankind” in the COVID 19 crisis, according to The Times of India.
But the Indian leader also had some choice words for his neighbors Imran Khan of Pakistan and Xi of China, who appeared at the same time-albeit practically for the first time since the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh along the “Line of Actual Control.
“It is regrettable that there are unnecessary attempts to put bilateral issues on the SCO agenda, which is a violation of the SCO Charter and the spirit of Shanghai,” Modi said in an apparent dig near Khan following recent plans to declare a disputed Kashmir territory the fifth province of Pakistan.
“Such efforts are contrary to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that defines the SCO,” Modi said.
The 20th annual SCO summit took place in the midst of an ongoing armed stalemate along the Sino-Indian border. Both armies came to the table for talks and promised to “exercise restraint”, as stated in a joint declaration published on Sunday.
However, neither side has withdrawn from the region, where 20 Indian soldiers died in June and an unconfirmed number of Chinese border troops were killed or injured.
Modi said that the Chinese Foreign Ministry often shared the same opinion as the Chinese Foreign Ministry on issues such as Hong Kong and Taiwan: “India has strong cultural and historical ties with the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. India believes that in order to improve these ties, it is important that we move forward while respecting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Xi’s speech contained remarks that could be interpreted in a similar way, but other remarks seemed to be directed at the Pacific powers, including the United States.
“History has proven and will continue to prove that good neighborliness will take precedence over a beggar-by-neighbor approach,” said Xi from Beijing, as Xinhua was quoted in the Chinese state media.
“Mutually beneficial cooperation will replace the zero-sum game, and multilateralism will defeat unilateralism,” he added.
The eight SCO nations – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan – must work together to promote “a healthy security environment” in the region, the Chinese Prime Minister demanded.
“We must strongly support the countries concerned in their rule-of-law efforts to continuously advance the important domestic political agenda,” he added. “We must strongly support the countries in maintaining political security and social stability and resolutely counter the interference of external forces in the internal affairs of SCO members under whatever pretexts”.
With the vociferous support of Putin, Xi condemned the “politicization” of the COVID 19 pandemic, especially the role of vaccines…