As Xi reassures Rouhani of China’s support for the Iran nuclear agreement, India puts the brakes on the New Silk Road

The annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation took place in Qingdao, on China’s coast. For the Chinese president, the agreement signed in 2015 represents an important result of multilateralism. India refuses to sign on the Belt and Road Initiative project.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese President Xi Jinping has reassured Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that China will defend the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement.

The two leaders met yesterday in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao on the side-lines of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The latter was founded in 2001 and now includes China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Iran is an observer.

On the last day of the meeting, President Xi also called for the "pursuit of cooperation for mutual benefit". This comes just a few hours after US President Donald Trump caused havoc at the G7 summit in Canada and refused to sign the final joint statement.

Talks between Xi and Rouhani centred first and foremost on the controversial decision of the US president to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and impose toughest sanctions in history against the Islamic Republic.

Unlike his US counterpart, the Chinese president said that nuclear deal was a great achievement of multilateralism and must be applied to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East and the non-proliferation regime. Rouhani also urged the big powers to play a positive role in the matter.

For their part, SCO members have established greater collaboration in the fight against Islamic terrorism and in the development of the world economy.

Xi rejected the Cold War mentality and came to the defence of multilateralism in a world where "unilateralism, trade protectionism and a backlash against globalisation are taking new forms". 

He also announced that China was providing 30 billion yuan (US.7 billion) to the SCO’s banking consortium, emphasising the potential for development through infrastructure projects under China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative, which includes the construction of ports, roads, and railways in Asia to allow the transit of Chinese goods to Europe.

Among SCO members, only India was the odd man out. For the second time in a few months, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship Belt and Road project that runs through Kashmir, a territory disputed by India and Pakistan.

For Modi, connectivity projects are welcome but they should be “inclusive and transparent” and “respect the sovereignty and priorities of nations”.