Leaders at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on Friday welcomed the One Belt and One Road initiative, but put riders that the projects should be based on principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. This, New Delhi feels, gives it room to lodge its reservations in future declarations. While India did not negotiate the declaration, it will be signatory to the document as it has had to adopt all previous declarations and documents.
The declaration said the leaders “praised the results of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held on 14-15 May 2017 in Beijing and spoke in favour of their implementation, including by means of coordinating international, regional and national projects aimed at cooperation in maintaining sustainable development based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit”.
The declaration said the heads of states highlighted the historical significance of the SCO’s enlargement. “They believe that granting full SCO membership to India and Pakistan at the current meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council will facilitate further development and enhance the potential of the SCO,” the declaration said.
It also called for strict adherence to the goals and principles of the UN Charter, “above all the equality and sovereignty of states”, non-interference in internal affairs, mutual respect of territorial integrity, inviolability of borders, non-aggression, peaceful settlement of disputes and non-use of force or threat of force.
Indian officials said that these principles, if followed by its neighbours China and Pakistan, would work to New Delhi’s advantage in most circumstances — especially when it comes to disputes with Pakistan and China.
The SCO also reaffirmed it’s commitment to the view that “there is no alternative to the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts” in various regions of the world on the basis of strict adherence to universally recognised norms and principles of international law.
Praising the activities of the competent bodies of SCO member states and the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in combating terrorism, extremism, separatism, the SCO leaders stressed the importance of intensifying work toward the expedited adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on Combating International Terrorism. This has been one of India’s long-standing agenda at international fora, when it comes to matters pertaining to terrorism.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “Security is the prerequisite for development. Without security, there will be no development to speak of…. China calls for the SCO to strengthen regional counter-terrorism institutional building and resolutely crack down on illicit drug manufacturing and trafficking. China is willing to host again the SCO joint counter-terrorism cyber exercise.”