In a snub to China, India goes for virtual SCO, BRICS summits


In what is being seen as a snub to China, India did not approve of Russia’s “proposal” to hold the upcoming SCO and BRICS “in-person” summits. India strongly insisted on both the summits being held virtually so that there could be no possibility of any one-on-one, pull-aside or bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Sources told The Daily Guardian that Russia pushed the proposal strongly to ensure that these summits are held in-person. But New Delhi did not allow Moscow to make these summits in-person. Hence, now the virtual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will be held on November 10, and that of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping will take place on November 17. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping are expected to join both the summits. But there will be no bilateral conversations between the two leaders.

Apart from these summits, the G20 will be held during November 21-22, which is also likely to be attended by PM Modi and Xi Jinping. Saudi Arabia is hosting the G20 summit. However, Saudi did not send any proposal for in-person meeting and it will also be held virtually, sources said.  

This summit will also be held virtually. Sources said, “With China adamant on its position along LAC in Ladakh and the military standoff continuing to be unresolved, PM Modi was not interested to have any bilateral, pull aside or even face-to-face with Xi Jinping.” Russia’s proposal for in-person meetings was extensively discussed by MEA and PMO. The proposal was struck down saying that it is not possible for the PM to travel to Russia due to the Covid-19 pandemic, say sources.  Finally, Russia anounced virtual meetings of SCO and BRICS saying that “leaders of several countries were reluctant to travel amid the continuing spread of Covid-19.”

Sources told TDG that China has got the message as to why India did not agree to the proposal of in-person meetings. “That the Indian leadership has given a snub to Chinese President over PLA’s misadventure along the Line of Actual Control is the message which has been sent out to Beijing,” said sources.   

Meanwhile, the leaders of India and China are also expected to be part of the East Asia Summit on November 11 and the SCO council of heads of government meeting on November 30, which will be hosted by New Delhi.

The virtual SCO summit will be the first time that PM Modi and Xi will join an online meeting since the border standoff in Ladakh emerged into the open in May.

“There will be no bilateral engagements as the meetings are being held virtually,” said an official. There is no scope for any kind of such bilateral conversations between the leaders, he added.