Qingdao summit offers hopes for peace in Asia

Duncan Bartlett China Plus Published: 2018-06-06 20:22:59
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By Duncan Bartlett

Chinese diplomats are hoping that the upcoming high-level summit in Qingdao will help to ease tensions between two of Asia's most unfriendly neighbors, India and Pakistan. There have been frequent clashes between the two nations since the partition of the Indian subcontinent 70 years ago. 

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain will attend the multilateral Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao on June 9 and 10. It will be the first SCO summit since India and Pakistan joined the group in 2017. In pre-summit talks, the two countries agreed to observe a ceasefire along their disputed border.

Journalists do preparation work at the Media Center of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Qingdao Summit in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 6, 2018. The media center of the summit will open to journalists from home and abroad from June 6 to 11.[Photo:Xinhua]

Journalists do preparation work at the Media Center of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Qingdao Summit in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 6, 2018. The media center of the summit will open to journalists from home and abroad from June 6 to 11.[Photo:Xinhua]

President Xi plays host

The SCO was established in Shanghai in 2001 with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as its founding members. President Xi Jinping will preside over the Qingdao summit that will be attended by these founding members, along with the leaders of the two new member states, India and Pakistan. The visit by India's Prime Minister Modi comes shortly after he met President Xi for two days of talks in Wuhan. Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend the summit as part of a state visit to China this week.

Security agenda

The initial basis of the SCO was security cooperation. "The 'three evil forces' of extremism, terrorism, and separatism still pose a huge threat to Central Asia. The SCO has targeted the most threatening elements to the region from the very beginning. It was one of the first international organizations to set anti-terrorism as one of its main tasks," said Sun Zhuangzhi, the director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies.

Shanghai Spirit

As well as pushing for improved security, the organizers say the summit will uphold the "Shanghai Spirit", which is seen as a way to create "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity, and pursuit of common development." China also regards the SCO summit as an opportunity to deepen economic ties with its neighbors. 

Economic development is an important issue for the host city of Qingdao, in east China's Shandong Province. The city already trades extensively with countries in East and Central Asia. One local official described the event as a "once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity" for the development of the region. "Qingdao has become an important sea gate of SCO countries to the Asia-Pacific market. Following the summit, we will take advantage of hosting the event and uphold the Shanghai Spirit to deeply integrate ourselves in the Belt and Road Initiative and open wider, so as to elevate our trade and economic relations with the SCO member states to a new level," said the official. 

Seaside charm

Despite its recent rapid development, Qingdao is still regarded as one of China's most attractive coastal cities, and it retains many of the historic European-style buildings from the 19th century. 

(Duncan Bartlett is the Editor of Asian Affairs magazine and a former presenter of World Business Report on the BBC World Service.)

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Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades. Duncan Bartlett Duncan Bartlett is the Editor of Asian Affairs, a monthly news magazine. As well as writing regularly for China Plus he also contributes to Japanese newspapers including the Sankei and the Nikkei. He writes weekly blog called Japan Story. He has previously worked as a journalist for the BBC, the Economist and Independent Television News. Stephane Grand Stephane Grand is the principal of an international accounting and management consulting firm in Greater China. Stephane has advised hundreds of foreign investors over the last 25 years of his presence in China. He holds a Ph.D. in Chinese corporate law from La Sorbonne (Paris), a Masters degree from the Fletcher School (Boston), and an MBA from HEC (Paris). He is an active commentator of business in China.