• Connectivity projects must respect sovereignty issues, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said, in a reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), at a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of Government hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.
  • Jaishankar pitched for more trade through Iran’s Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridors that India is a part of, aiming to improve bilateral trade with Central Asian countries.
  • A communique issued after the meeting named all countries, other than India, and said they “reaffirmed their support for the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative”, “including the work to promote the alignment of the ‘Belt and Road’ construction with the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union”.
  • “Our total trade with SCO Members is only $141 billion, which has potential to increase manifold.
  • Fair market access is to our mutual benefit and only way to move forward,” Dr. Jaishankar said at the meet which included Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and the Prime Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • The bulk of India’s trade with SCO countries is with China, which crossed $100 billion this year.
  • In a series of tweets outlining his speech, Dr. Jaishankar took aim at China’s BRI saying, “Connectivity projects should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states and respect international law.”
  • India has refused to join the BRI, comprising a series of infrastructure projects that pass through Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, and has been developing and promoting the Shahid Beheshti terminal at Chabahar and the link through the INSTC as an alternative to both the BRI and to transit trade through Pakistan.
  • “[I] underlined that we need better connectivity in the SCO region built on centrality of interests of Central Asian states.
  • [This] will unlock the economic potential of this region in which Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor could become enablers,” Dr. Jaishankar tweeted.
  • Without referring directly to the Ukraine war, and Russia’s decision to halt the grain initiative, Dr. Jaishankar said that India will “foster greater cooperation with SCO member states on countering the food crisis”, particularly with millets.
  • In the SCO joint communique, all countries also criticised the “imposition of unilateral economic sanctions not endorsed by the UN Security Council”, and said the sanctions “adversely affect” the global economy, without naming U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia. 


  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation.
  • Its creationwas announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
  • It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St. Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003.
  • The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.

Member Countries

  • SCO comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
  • The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Mongolia are the observer states in SCO.
  • SCO has six dialogue partners, viz, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. 

Importance for India

  • The full membership of the SCO will provide India greater visibility in the affairs of the Eurasian region which is strategically important for India.
  • Central Asia is a part of India’s Extended Neighbourhood – SCO provides India an opportunity to pursue the “Connect Central Asian Policy”.
  • Helps India fulfil its aspiration of playing an active role in its extended neighbourhood as well as checking the ever growing influence of China in Eurasia.
  • It will enable India, as an integral part of the Eurasian security grouping, to neutralise centrifugal forces arising from religious extremism and terrorism in the region.
  • It will help India in managing much more effectively the negative impact of a Talibanised Afghanistan, especially in the post-2014 scenario.
  • India through RATS can improve its counterterrorism abilities by working toward intelligence sharing, law enforcement and developing best practices and technologies.
  • Through the SCO, India can also work on anti-drug trafficking and small arms proliferation.
  • Cooperation on common challenges of terrorism and radicalisation.
  • It will provide India with a forum where it can constructively engage both China and Pakistan in a regional context and project India’s security interests in the turbulent regional swathe— including West Asia.
  • India being an energy deficient country with increasing demands for energy, SCO provides it with an opportunity to meet its energy requirements through regional diplomacy.


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