Those interested in the rise and fall of great powers could observe something astonishing at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan over the weekend – not so much in the official speeches or the agreements signed, but rather in the protocol: When China’s President Xi Jinping arrived at Samarkand airport, President Shavkat Mirsiyoyev was waiting at the runway, waving warmly, accompanied by countless dance groups. Even a pagoda specially erected for the occasion on the runway was passed on the way. The scene was completely different for Vladimir Putin: The Russian president had to be content with the Uzbek prime minister – without folklore or music and even without a handshake.
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