SCO Meeting and Quests for Multipolarity in the Scope of China-India-Russia Relations

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Today, when the tension in world politics is high, various crises are either experienced in Asia or directly or indirectly affect the states in Asia. In this environment, relations and basic dynamics in Asia come to the fore. In such a period when the Russia-Ukraine War began, geopolitical vulnerabilities in Asia became much more evident. One of the main reasons for this is the unresolved problems between countries. For example, various irreconcilable issues between China and India increase regional fragility. This is not only due to the continuation of tensions between countries; It causes regional threats to grow, economic problems increase and foreign intervention becomes much easier.

For the aforementioned reasons, there is a need for international organizations and meetings that will strengthen the relations between the parties, put them in a normal framework, and thus ensure that the channels of dialogue remain open. One of the actors that provides this in Asia is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO Foreign Ministers Council Meeting was held on 4-5 May 2023 both to address regional issues and relations and to complete the preparations for the SCO Leaders’ Summit, which is planned to be held in July 2023. During the meeting held in Goa State of India, critical meetings were held especially between the Foreign Ministers of China, India and Russia.

It is true that important issues came to the fore between the parties during the negotiations. The balances, both regionally and within the SCO, are read within the framework of relations between India-Russia and China-Pakistan. However, today it can be said that this is a limited reading. Because, although there are problematic relations between China and India, one of the most important issues in the relations and contacts made is to adopt a common approach to the current world system.

It is known that Russia and China aim for a multipolar world. In the process until the Russia-Ukraine War, Europe was also trying to act more autonomously, despite the United States of America (USA). However, as a result of the effect of the war both in Eurasia and in the world system, Europe again came under the influence of the USA. It has been understood that Russia does not have enough capacity to become a pole. On the other hand, the debates began to be read as a bipolar race between the USA and China. However, one of the topics that came to the fore during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow on 20-22 March 2023 was multipolarity. It is known that the relations established between the two states are against the Western-centered world system.[1]

On the other hand, the SCO meeting has a critical importance in the multipolarity debate. Because among the main objectives of the SCO is the construction of a new democratic, just and rational international political and economic system.[2] During the meetings held, it was stated that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar agreed within the scope of building a multipolar world.[3]

It is obvious that India’s quest for a multipolar world is based on the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War. In addition, New Delhi, freed from the colonialism of Western actors, does not want to become dependent on any power. At this point, it can be said that India, which stayed away from the tension between the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, wants to become a pole in parallel with its increasing political and economic capacity.

The fact that India is a pole can be perceived as a threat in Asia, especially by China. However, the actor that Beijing perceives primarily as a rival/threat today is the West. For this reason, it can be said that China will tolerate the rise of countries that are not dependent on the West, oppose the influence of the West, and advocate a multipolar world system by opening the current system to discussion. Because China’s official newspaper in English, Global Times, drew attention to the statements of Tsinghua University National Strategy Institute Research Department Director Qian Feng, giving the message that the talks between the Foreign Ministers of China, Russia and India will strengthen mutual trust and remove doubts about expanding cooperation.[4]

China’s current power capacity and the strategy it has adopted are an obstacle to direct confrontation with the West. Any power in the world that will oppose the Western-centered system creates an important advantage for China. In addition, India’s relations with Russia, its role in the BRICS and its increasing influence in the world economy make New Delhi an actor that needs to be won. Otherwise, there is a possibility that the vision presented by both the SCO and the BRICS to Asia and the world will be damaged.

As a result, the SCO meeting held by the foreign ministers is slow in Asia and in the world system; but it is a harbinger of significant change. Multipolarity is an important consensus issue on the New Delhi-Beijing line. At this point, it can be said that the actors that emerged as a pole and want to emerge, put the regional rivalry between them in the background and put the Western-based pressure to the fore. The expansion of the SCO and its signing of agreements with new countries are also indicators of this. For example, at the last meeting, memorandums regarding granting SCO Dialogue Partner status to Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates were signed.[5] This shows that New Delhi and Beijing can at least come to an agreement on an issue like Myanmar.

[1] Heather Ashby v.d., “Xi and Putin Flaunt Deepening Ties, Flout the U.S.-led Order”, USIP,, (Date of Accession: 06.05.2023).

[2] “О Шанхайской организации сотрудничества”, ШОС,, (Date of Accession: 06.05.2023).

[3] “Вопросы глобального взаимодействия обсуждают главы МИД ШОС на Гоа”, Вести.Ru,, (Date of Accession: 06.05.2023).

[4] “SCO FM Meeting to Reinforce Consensus Ahead of July Summit”, Global Times,, (Date of Accession: 06.05.2023).

[5] “New SCO Dialogue Partners”, SCO,, (Date of Accession: 06.05.2023).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.