Li Shangfu to attend SCO meet in India from April 27-28, confirms China’s Defence Ministry

Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu will make his maiden visit to India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting planned to be held this week, said Chinese Defence Ministry, The Global Times reported.

According to Global Times, the Chinese Defence Ministry said that from Thursday to Friday (April 27, 28), the Chinese Defence Minister will take part in SCO and will make a speech and meet with the head of delegations from other countries.

Global Times, in a tweet, said, “Chinese State Councilor and Defence Minister Li Shangfu will attend a defence ministers’ meeting among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation from Thursday to Friday in India. He will make a speech and meet with head of delegations from other countries: Chinese Defence Ministry.” Following the 2020 Galwan Valley clashes, this is the first time that a Chinese Defence Minister will visit India.

Li Shangfu, a US-sanctioned general, was named as China’s new Defence Minister a month ago. Li has been under US sanctions since 2018 and his appointment comes at a time of increasingly strained relations between Beijing and Washington, reported CNN.

Li Shangfu, an aerospace expert, was voted unanimously by the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress to replace outgoing defence chief Wei Fenghe.

China and India have a long history of border transgressions and a recent one was witnessed in December 2022 in Arunachal Pradesh.

Prior to that, a clash was witnessed in Galwan in June 2020 when the Chinese troops tried to aggressively change the status quo on LAC in eastern Ladakh. Twenty Indian soldiers died in the Galwan Valley clash which was fought in hand-to-hand combat in sub-zero temperatures on the near pitch-black night of June 15 and June 16, 2020.

The clash was the deadliest confrontation between India and China in over four decades. China’s state media has almost entirely failed to cover the skirmish or its aftermath.

However, after the Galwan clash in 2020, several rounds of military and diplomatic talks have taken place to resolve the standoff. Disengagement at some border points did take place but by and large, there is an impasse on complete disengagement.

After the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting, a meeting of the Foreign Minister is scheduled to be held on May 5 in Goa. Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is all set to take part in the same. The SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting is scheduled to be held on April 27 and 28 in India. Meanwhile, the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting is scheduled to be held on May 4-5 in Goa. The SCO member countries are India, Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.