SCO FM meeting to reinforce consensus ahead of July summit
Published: May 04, 2023 11:03 PM
A sculpture featuring the logo of the SCO is seen in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. Photo: VCG

A sculpture featuring the logo of the SCO. Photo: VCG

The ongoing Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers' Meeting is not only set to further enhance mutual trust and dispel concerns among member states ahead of the upcoming SCO summit in July, but also aims to highlight the organization's role in injecting stability and positive energy into the world, which is currently facing a turbulent political and economic situation. 

Shortly after the SCO Foreign Ministers' Meeting, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang is scheduled to visit Pakistan from May 5 to 6 and attend the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in Pakistan, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning announced on Thursday.

Experts hailed China's consistent efforts in addressing the Afghan issue as a paragon of Beijing's role in playing stabilizer in the region, its good will, and also its ability in negotiating peace. 

The SCO Foreign Ministers' Meeting is being held on May 4 and 5 in Panaji, the capital of Goa, India. At the meeting, Qin will exchange views with other SCO member states' foreign ministers on the international and regional situation and SCO cooperation in various fields, among other topics, to make full preparations for this year's SCO summit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday. 

India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held a bilateral meeting with SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming in Goa and expressed appreciation for his "support for India's SCO Presidency," Indian media reported on Thursday.

"Started my meetings at SCO CFM with a productive interaction with Secretary General Zhang Ming. Appreciate his support for India's SCO Presidency. Indian presidency is driven by a commitment to SECURE SCO," Jaishankar tweeted.

Observers believe the SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting will pave the way for the SCO summit, which is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on July 3-4 this year. 

The SCO Foreign Ministers' Meeting seeks to further enhance mutual trust and double down on the consensus between member states on core issues, finding a new way out for the bloc, as well as the world amid the complicated international atmosphere, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

He said that the meeting between foreign ministers from countries such as China, Russia and India will further strengthen mutual trust, as well as dispel doubts and concerns so as to expand cooperation. 

This will be Qin's second visit to India after he became foreign minister. Ahead of the Foreign Ministers' meeting, defense ministers from China and India met in New Delhi on April 27, during the SCO Defense Ministers' meeting.

When meeting with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu said that the China-Indian border situation remains stable, and the border issue should be properly managed within bilateral ties.

SCO is an important and mature platform for China to handle diplomacy with its neighbors, and China is dexterous in handling relations between member states, said Li Yongquan, director of the Eurasian Social Development Research at the Development Research Center of the State Council, referring to the intricate relationship between SCO members, such as India and Pakistan, and Central Asian countries and Russia.

"Successful handling and inclusion of those countries embodies China's diplomatic policies which are of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation; respect each other's sovereignty and do not seek a sphere of influence," said Li, hailing the SCO's development in the past two decades amid a complicated international atmosphere as a "miracle."

Shri Dammu Ravi, Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that the key focus of foreign ministers includes the status of the decision that will be approved in the summit in July, the state of multilateral cooperation, and progress in admitting Iran and Belarus as full members of the grouping.

The spirit of SCO includes mutual trust, mutual benefit, respect and inclusiveness, which stands in sharp contrast to the US-led small cliques that divide countries based on ideology and focus on confrontation, said Qian.

"This is why the SCO can keep developing and draw in new members… the organization is set to inject much-needed stability and positive energy into the world, which is engulfed in uncertainty and turmoil," Qian noted. 

Paragon of neighborly help

On Thursday, a spokesperson from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Qin will visit Pakistan from May 5 to 6, where he will also attend the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue.

The spokesperson said this will be Qin's first visit to Pakistan and an important part of the recent close and frequent interactions between the two countries. During the visit, Qin will meet with the leader of Pakistan and co-chair the fourth round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The two sides will have in-person and in-depth communication on bilateral relations and the international and regional situation.

The Foreign Ministers' Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan and the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue are both important platforms for exchanges and cooperation on issues related to Afghanistan and will help bring about more consensuses among regional countries on the Afghan issue. China hopes to exchange views with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the situation in Afghanistan and tri-party cooperation at the Dialogue, so as to build up consensus, consolidate mutual trust, and jointly contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region, said the spokesperson.

The international community needs to step up contact and dialogue with the Afghan interim government, support its efforts for reconstruction and development, and encourage it to build an inclusive government, exercise moderate governance, develop friendly relations with its neighbors and firmly fight terrorism, said the spokesperson. 

Foreign ministers' meetings between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan have been constructive in pushing the Afghan issue onto the right path for years. During the process, China and Pakistan, Afghanistan's two neighbors, have made special efforts in preventing instability in Afghanistan from spilling over to other countries and helping rebuild the country, said experts.

China has been playing a bigger role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan in recent years, and will continue pushing for institutionalized efforts in solving this issue, said Qian. He said that by institutionalizing efforts to help reconstruct Afghanistan, China hopes to see an independent, prosperous Afghanistan better fulfill its international commitments, said Qian.

He also noted that the three countries' foreign ministers' meeting can serve as an effective platform for eradicating terrorism, as well as maintaining peace in the region.

Recently, Qin attended the fourth Foreign Ministers' Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan in Samarkand and the "Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan Plus Afghanistan" Foreign Ministers' Dialogue, and chaired the second Informal Meeting on Afghanistan Between Foreign Ministers of China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran.