The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will hold its 22nd summit in the historic Uzbek city of Samarkand from Sep 15-16. At the upcoming event, the leaders of the SCO countries will come together for the first time in three years in a face-to-face format. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Uzbekistan on September 15-16 to attend the SCO Summit and is also likely to hold a few bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be among the fifteen heads of state and the heads of ten international organizations – that work in cooperation with the SCO– who will attend the Samarkand Summit to discuss the bilateral, regional and global issues that have accumulated since the start of the COVID pandemic causing serious shifts both in geopolitics and geoeconomics. After the 22nd SCO summit, India will take charge of the rotational presidency of the influential grouping which, according to a report from Chinese state TV, total trade value of a whopping $6 trillion in 2020, increased from just $667 billion in 2001. 

SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming in an interview to Chinese state TV on Monday said, many countries are interested in joining SCO. Iran is likely to sign a Memorandum of Obligations to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a member. Belarus has also applied for membership. In addition, memorandums on granting dialogue partner status will be signed with Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The approval of applications for partner status is also expected with Bahrain and the Maldives.

Before traveling to Samarkand for the 22nd SCO Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping will first visit Kazakhstan on September 14 (Wednesday), for bilateral talks with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The two leaders are expected to sign a number of agreements. The visit has huge symbolic and geopolitical value especially in light of the Russia-Ukraine war and the violence in Kazakhstan capital in January this year highlighting its precarious geopolitical position as it seeks to balance Moscow and the West. Kazakhstan is the first country that the Chinese leader will visit since the start of the pandemic.

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said Xi’s visit to SCO Summit will be China’s most important event of head-of-state diplomacy on the eve of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. 20th Party congress slated to begin on Oct 16 will provide the stage for President Xi to secure a third term in power while Samarkand Summit is a platform for Xi to display his Heads of State diplomacy with respect to major global and regional issues. However, China’s foreign ministry declined to share any information about President Xi’s bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the SCO summit.

The Beijing-headquartered SCO is made up of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, as well as four central Asian countries- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. SCO is known as world’s largest and most populous regional institution, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP. During the Summit, the leaders are expected to review the organization’s activities over the past two decades and discuss the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation. Topical issues of regional and global importance are also expected to be discussed at the meeting.