China, Russia, India Heads of State Conduct Brisk Pace of Diplomacy
September 10, 2014 • 1:31PM

Following the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), and commitments to development projects at the BRICS Summit in Brazil last July, China, India, and Russia have set off at a brisk pace to find ways to cooperate and consolidate their role for economic development and security across the Asian region.

To begin with, at the Sept. 11-12 SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) Heads of State Summit in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, China President Xi Jinping will confer with Russian President Vladimir Putin and others, on security and cooperation. This is the 14th annual meeting of the SCO, which will have leaders from its six full-member countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, besides China and Russia; along with observer countries—India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Iran. Also, attending as dialogue partners will be Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Among the actions expected at the Summit, will be SCO expansion, to open the way for regular membership by India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia.

After the SCO events, Chinese President Xi will then make official state visits to Tajikistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and India, it was announced today in Beijing. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang stated that Xi's plans came at the invitation of, respectively, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

In India, President Xi will reportedly visit Gujarat, home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before arriving in New Delhi. Prime Minister Modi is also expected to be in the state capital, Ahmedabad, that day, which is his 64th birthday. Although China has not officially announced the dates or itinerary for President Xi's India visit, state officials in Gujarat said he would visit the state for a day on Sept. 17 and would go to the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad.

Meanwhile, it was announced in New Delhi today that India's Modi has accepted an invitation from Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. "Prime Minister Modi agreed to visit Malaysia at a mutually convenient time," said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's office.

Then, making her first visit there as India's External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Afghanistan, a strategically important ally of India, on Sept. 10, to further enhance ties and review key projects being implemented by India in the trouble-torn country.

Swaraj will hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on a number of crucial issues, which may include enhancing defense and security assistance from India. "We had not declared anybody to be our favorite in the [Presidential] election. Be it Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Gani, we will work with whoever becomes the President. In Afghanistan, our people are working, risking their lives. We have an age-old relationship with Afghanistan and no shortcomings will come in the way," she said.

The Afghan elections took place in June, but have remained disputed up through the present day.

Russia and China Hold Inaugural Meeting of Investment Cooperation Commission; Discuss Projects and Currency Swaps

Following up Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal last May in Shanghai, Russian and Chinese officials met in Beijing today, for their inaugural session to discuss arrangements for currency swaps and bilateral investment projects, Itar-Tass reported. "We have discussed infrastructure for the investment cooperation, expansion of trade in rubles and yuan, banking cooperation, possible launch of relevant accounts by Russian companies in Chinese banks, and possible issue of loans in yuan," said Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who is also a co-chairman of the Commission.

In contrast, the European Union had published a law in July to cut off financing for five major Russian banks over Moscow's alleged "destabilizing actions" in Ukraine.

The Investment Cooperation Commission's session also discussed the role of Chinese investors in high-speed railways in Russia and establishment of data centers in Siberia. The projects "are related to transport infrastructure, petrochemical complexes, the extraction, processing and delivery of natural resources through the Far East region, and development of the agricultural sector," Shuvalov said, as quoted in RIA Novosti.

Last month, the Central Bank of Russia announced that Russian and Chinese monetary regulators had agreed on a draft document on national currency swaps. The press service of the Russian monetary regulator said in early August that the volume of national currency swaps, and the time of their launch, would depend on the demand for this instrument, adding that the swap agreement would boost the potential for using Russian rubles and Chinese yuan in trade settlements.