The summit was utilised by key member states China and Russia to boost Iran’s morale following the US move to pull out from the nuclear deal

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a block of eight countries including India, took incremental steps at its 18th summit over the weekend towards wider economic engagements and security cooperation, even as the G7, the world’s most powerful economic bloc, was at the same time embroiled in a spat between the United States and its closest allies that threatened their decades-old partnership.

While leaders of the seven major global economies could not reconcile their differences over moves made by the Trump administration, the SCO showed cohesiveness despite persisting differences between member states India and Pakistan, and India and China. Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over connectivity projects that violate sovereignty of another country and India did not endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative or BRI in the final communique, the outcome of the summit was not marked by acrimony. Rather India and China carried forward the spirit of the recent summit at Wuhan between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and leaders of India and Pakistan exchanged pleasantries.

The SCO summit raised hopes of greater cooperation in the Eurasian region, with some of the member states potentially reconciling their differences, which may result in smoother physical connectivity and trade. The summit in Qingdao was utilised by key member states China and Russia to boost Iran’s morale following the US decision to pull out from the nuclear deal. Iran is knocking at the door of the SCO to be made a member. Currently it has the status of an observer in the grouping.

At the G7 summit in contrast, US President Donald Trump left in a huff as the other six leaders failed to convince him and he did not want to appear weak ahead of the historic summit with the North Korean leader on June 12. The upheaval caused by decisions of the Trump administration have rattled Europe, China and Russia as well as India. However, while Russia and China are closing ranks, Europe appears to be in disarray.

For the SCO, the priority areas have been combating terrorism, drug trafficking, organised cross-border crimes and cyber security. However, given the Trump administration’s anti-globalisation stance, the SCO may see more thrust on cooperation in trade, investment and development, perhaps even leading to a joint free trade area, according to some experts. China, with its economic prowess, would appear to dominate the SCO, but India may provide balance in the grouping by standing its ground, as it did on key issues soon after being inducted as a member.