In September 2022, Narendra Modi will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. As part of the SCO presidency, India will host its first Summit in 2023. Over the years, China has increasingly expanded its economic footprint in Central Asia (CA), thereby acquiring political clout, much to Russia’s chagrin. Despite its benefits, it also burdened member-states with debt, causing discomfort.
India, which has historical ties and an interest in the former Soviet republics, immediately established diplomatic representation in all the newly independent states. Narasimha Rao visited the region in 1993 and 1995 with high-profile delegations.
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Narasimha Rao visited Kazakhstan in 1993 as part of this author’s involvement. Even so, our momentum couldn’t last. As a challenge to the existing world order, China goes beyond that.
Economist noted in September 2014 that ‘it is slowly, messily, and without clear plans for the future, it is building a new one. Aside from India, SCO members have close ties with China and oppose Western liberal democratic values. American observers were promptly denied observer status in SCO.
The shrinking influence of Russia will make it even harder to check Chinese ambitions and SCO dominance. In light of China’s increasingly belligerent behavior and the formation of an embryonic ‘Red Quad’ comprising China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran, isn’t Iran even the odd one out?