Li Shangfu arrived in Delhi on Thursday to attend an important security summit – the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers’ meeting scheduled to be held a day later.
This is the first visit by the Chinese defence minister to India since deadly border clashes in 2020, in which several Indian and Chinese soldiers were killed.
According to China’s defence ministry, Mr Li will address the summit in Delhi and “meet with the heads of delegations from relevant countries to communicate and exchange views on the issues of the international and regional situation as well as defence and security cooperation”.
India became the chair of the SCO in 2023.
The SCO is an eight-member multilateral organisation established on 15 June 2001 by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, according to its official website.
In July 2015 in Russia’s Ufa, the SCO decided to admit India as a full member.
On 9 June 2017, at the historic summit in Astana, India officially joined SCO as a full-member.
The website mentions that “the organisation was formed by China, Russia and four Central Asian countries in 2001 as a countermeasure to limit the influence of Western alliances such as Nato. India and Pakistan joined the group in 2017.”
The most recent confrontation between India and China took place in December last year at Tawang in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, in which India said its forces clashed with Chinese troops along the border.
China claims the entirety of the state as its own and has “renamed” areas within the state as well, something that has been consistently rejected by India.
Mr Li and Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh will also hold a bilateral meeting in Delhi, reports said.