Xi, Modi, Putin seek to strengthen multilateral world order

The meeting between Indian PM Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit reinforces the multilateral nature of the world today, say experts.

The three leaders’ meeting in Osaka last week came days after they got together to discuss mutually relevant issues on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, which took place in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek earlier in June.

Over the past several years, Russia, China and India have all been adversely affected by growing tensions with the United States, especially after US President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on Chinese exports to the US and ended India’s preferential trade status that allowed some of the South Asian nation’s products to enter the US duty-free. In response, New Delhi imposed retaliatory duties on imports from the US.

Addressing the trilateral meeting in Osaka, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “As developing economies, it is important that there is a discussion between us on the issues of economy, politics and defense.” Modi also said that terrorism was a global challenge and must be effectively fought by the international community. India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, tweeted a summary of Modi’s speech during the talks.

India’s foreign secretary, Vijay Gokhale, later said that the leaders also discussed multilateral challenges. “All three leaders agreed that in an era of economic and global change, it is important to maintain the trend of globalization, a free rule-based trading system, to oppose tendency towards protectionism.” The three also spoke about steps to tackle climate change and enhance counterterrorism cooperation.

Significance of the talks

“After the US pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Change Accord — and given Trump’s attitude toward the WTO and the sanctity of multilateral agreements in general — China, Russia, India and the developing world came together strongly in defense of the multilateral world order,” political analyst Ravi Bhoothalingam told DW.

The meeting in Osaka, Bhoothalingam said, would help reaffirm their resolve to amicably settle their trade and technological issues with the US.

Andrew Cainey, an Asia expert at the London-based Chatham House, told DW that the meeting “highlights again the multipolar nature of the world today…the world is not just G2 [the US and China].”

However, India and Russia would also seek to act in their own interests, crafting their own multilateral strategies with other nations, Cainey said. “They can, no doubt, reach agreement on some issues: but their situations and interests are fundamentally different.”

India, for instance, would have to balance its relations with the US and China, while continuing to import defense equipment from Russia. Additionally, “although they bemoan US ‘protectionism,’ these countries also have many protectionist attributes,” Cainey said

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