As U.S. President Donald Trump left the Group of Seven nations in turmoil this weekend, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin were putting on a very different show on the other side of the world.
On Sunday, Xi and Putin toasted the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an eight-member bloc designed to coordinate security policies across Asia. The group, which welcomed new members India and Pakistan, as well as the presidents of Iran and Mongolia, pledged to increase cooperation on energy and agriculture and create more favorable conditions on trade and investment.
The carefully choreographed affair contrasted with the discord in Canada, as Trump disavowed the G-7’s joint statement and criticized his host, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Even as the scope of the breakdown over U.S. tariffs became clear, Xi was taking the podium to criticize what he said were new forms of “unilateralism” and “protectionism.”
“We oppose the practice of sacrificing other countries’ security for their own absolute security,” Xi told a gathering of the SCO’s heads of state in the Chinese port of Qingdao. “We need to reject selfish, short-sighted and closed policies, uphold the rules of the World Trade Organization, support the multilateral trading system and build an open world economy.”
China’s state-run media had fun with the contrasting images of the feuding democratic states and the orderly proceedings of the China- and Russian-led bloc. The English-language Twitter of account of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper posted photos of a tense scene in La Malbaie, Quebec, and another of Xi and Putin smiling, with the caption, “G7 vs SCO: two meetings on the same day.”
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