- PM Modi to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Qingdao
- India has been included as a full member of the SCO, an Asian bloc
- PM Modi will hold nearly half a dozen bilateral meetings over two days
Here are 10 important things to know about this year's Asian Summit SCO:
PM Modi arrived in Qingdao at 1:20 pm today. He held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping shortly after, during which the two leaders explored ways to deepen ties in areas of trade and investment, besides reviewing the overall bilateral cooperation between India and China.
This is PM Modi's second visit to China this year. Today's meeting between PM Modi and President Xi comes six weeks after the two leaders held an informal summit in central China's Wuhan city during which they exchanged views on solidifying the relationship between the two countries.
Leaders of the eight Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states and four observer states, as well as heads of international organisations will attend the summit which will explore ways to bolster cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalisation, besides deliberating on issues of global relevance.
Full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO include China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. Countries with observer status in the bloc include Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Belarus.
At this year's summit, India is likely to focus on the importance of regional connectivity projects to boost trade among members of the SCO countries. India has been strongly pushing for connectivity projects like the Chabahar port project in Iran and the over-7,200 km long International North-South Transport Corridor to gain access to resource-rich Central Asian countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also expected to discuss the economic ties between the two countries over the next two days. India has been asking China to open its IT and pharmaceutical sectors to address the trade deficit which climbed to over $51 billion last year.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to hold nearly half a dozen bilateral meetings with top leaders of SCO countries. However, there is no official confirmation on whether there will be any interaction between PM Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, who is also attending the meeting in China.
India has been raising the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in various multilateral forums with an aim to build pressure on Islamabad to dismantle the terror infrastructure operating from Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Ahead of the SCO summit, PM Modi had said he was "excited" to lead the Indian delegation for the grouping's first-ever meeting with India as a full member. "In the last one year since India became a full member of the SCO, our interaction with the organisation and its member states has grown considerably. I believe that the Qingdao Summit will further enrich the SCO agenda, while heralding a new beginning for India's engagement with the SCO," he said.
"With 8 members, SCO represents approximately 42 per cent of the world's population, 22 per cent of the land area and 20 per cent of the GDP. SCO focuses on political, economic, security and cultural cooperation and enables India to engage with Central Asian countries," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted this morning.