Shanghai Cooperation Organization turns Pan Asian

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) finally delivered on its earlier pledges to enlarge the grouping. The organization — that currently includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — accepted major South Asian nations thus moving towards a new reincarnation of Pan-Asianism.

The SCO hopes to strengthen the grouping by inviting India and Pakistan

The SCO hopes to strengthen the grouping by inviting major South Asian nations India and Pakistan

The organization that originated from bilateral border talks between China and the former Soviet Union now becomes truly multilateral. At the summit meeting in Ufa on July 10, Russia approved entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO. The SCO apparently aimed to strengthen the grouping by inviting the subcontinent’s major states.

In his summing up remarks, President Vladimir Putin said the upcoming accession of India and Pakistan into the SCO would help the organization to face current challenges and threats. For the first time in its 15-year history, the SCO made a decision on its enlargement, he said.

Putin also noted the interest of several nations of South Asia, South-East Asia and the Middle East in gaining the status as SCO dialogue partner and observer nation.

In the meantime, Belarus’ status was raised from a dialogue partner to an observer nation, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal became SCO’s dialogue partners.

The summit also approved the SCO development blueprint till 2025 that prioritizes regional stability and conflict resolution, Putin said. The summit discussed the Islamic State threat in Afghanistan and adopted another blueprint, Cooperation Program to Counter Terrorism and Separatism in 2016-2018, he said.

In their joint statement, the SCO leaders called for settlement of political crises in the Middle East and North Africa without “outside interference.”

The next SCO summit meeting is due in Tashkent in 2016, and Uzbekistan assumed the SCO’s rotating presidency.

However, the SCO seems to remain undecided about Iran’s membership. Answering a direct question about the SCO’s further enlargement plans, Putin noted Iran’s intention to join the organization but said the accession of India and Pakistan should be completed first before accepting other new members.

Moscow has long argued that the SCO expansion would serve to strengthen its international status. However, ahead and during the summit meeting, Russian officials have been careful to avoid confrontational rhetoric.

The SCO is not directed against any third party, Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, said on July 8. She added that India and Pakistan are due to become full members of the SCO in 2016.

The SCO has long been seen as aiming to uniting Asian nations in their opposition to the perceived US expansionism. However, the grouping remained reluctant to be seen as a military body in-the-making. On July 7, the SCO Secretary General Dmitry Mezentsev said the SCO would not be transformed into a military bloc.

The SCO was preceded by bilateral border talks between China and the former USSR. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, China faced four negotiating partners: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. So the SCO’s predecessor was formed as a five-member ‘Shanghai Five’ group in 1996. The SCO was formally created on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai and Uzbekistan joined the grouping.

From January 1 2004, the SCO started operations as a full-fledged international organization. From 2004, the SCO had a secretariat in Beijing and a Regional Anti-Terrorist Force in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.

Almost since its inception, the SCO has been eyeing enlargement. India has been touted as a potential candidate to join for more than a decade. India’s joining in could raise the SCO’s significance, Putin stated back in 2002.

The grouping has long prepared itself for accepting new member countries. The SCO in Tashkent in 2010 approved rules on accepting new member-states. According to the rules, the SCO new members must be Eurasian nations, have diplomatic relations with all current member states, and have either observer or dialogue partner status. However, the rules stipulate that would-be member countries must not be subject to UN sanctions, and not be involved in any armed conflict.

In 2011, Russian officials argued that the SCO was reluctant to accept India and Pakistan as full members due to the continued territorial dispute between them. But later Moscow appeared to change its position by indicating interest in the SCO membership of India and Pakistan despite their differences.

Moscow’s increased interest in the SCO is hardly surprising against a backdrop of Russia’s continued acrimony with the West over Ukraine. The Kremlin apparently prioritizes the SCO and BRICS as means to counter perceived Western attempts to isolate and marginalize Russia.

The upcoming entry of India and Pakistan is also set to change the balance of power in the SCO, the organization previously dominated by China, economically and politically. And the possible entry of new members from South-East Asia and the Middle East has a potential to turn the SCO into a truly Pan-Asian body in the future.

In the past, the SCO member states advocated increased trade, the introduction of new international currency and the regional unified energy system. There were also calls to create the SCO’s currency based on the gold standard. However, all these plans remained slow to materialize.

Therefore, the latest SCO top-level meeting came to indicate the grouping’s increasing global ambitions. But it remains to be seen whether the organization will be able to expand its international clout and evolve into a new form of Pan-Asianism.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)



Categories: Asia Times News & Features

Tags: , ,

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    One of the key issues mentioned in this article beside the acceptance of Pakistan and India as full member states is the “Islamic threat in Afghanistan”. with India and Pakistan becoming full member states the population of Muslims in the SCO will now cross over 400 million or closer to 425 million. India’s Muslim population which is at 180 million will surge to 340 million by 2050.
    By then nations like Iran will be part of the SCO. The Demographic rise of the Muslim population in the SCO by 2050 will be well over 500 million and represent over a 9 nations. Islam will have a greater say in the SCO than ever before
    This is at a time that Russia and Saudi Arabia are forging a new alliance, and Russia is a full member state of the SCO.

  • Ashish Shukla

    SCO is inevitable as India, Pakistan, China, Russia all fear spread of terrorism inside their borders. Read a very interesting take on the matter on newsbred.com https://www.newsbred.com/counterview-iii-sco-security-net-against-spreading-terrorism

  • Kenington

    I have come across figures that the Muslim population in China ranges from 34 to 43 million. Muslims have live peacefully in China for centuries and there are many cultural practices and worship places still existing today. The famous Admiral Cheng Ho was a muslim.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    I did not know there were that many Muslims in China. My comment was the “voice of Islam”, not that they are peaceful or not. the voice of Muslims in the SCO will be defined by
    -the number of Muslims in those nations
    -the power of those nations such as Pakistan, Iran, and the Central Asian Muslim nations, I believe Kurdistan is about the size of western Europe,with enormous mineral, oil and gas reserves.
    It is obvious that with the inclusion of India, the Hindu world, by and large, is now part of the SCO. My comment was to highlight what was not obvious.

  • marik

    Much of the Buddhist World will be part of the SCO too, since eventually Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia will join. And Islam has no common voice. With the inclusion of Shia powerhouse Iran, Sunni Majority Pakistan and central asian state’s influence will be diluted.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Read your comment.,
    Sri Lankan and Cambodian Buddhism is not the same as Mongolian. the dissimilarity between
    Hinayana (Sri Lanka, Cambodia)
    Vajrayana/Mahayana (Mongolian)
    Is vast. the Buddhist world and their “Sanga” are not as united as the Muslim world,
    It is not just numbers, but the power of these nations. Chinese Buddhism is also “Mahayana’ and by and large, the Buddhist world still has to have that “political clout”.
    Having said that the voice of Buddhism may have an effect but the voice of Islam will have an effect. why? Islam is more a central issue in world politics, as a faith, than Buddhism at this moment.
    I believe, and it is just a guess, but those differences you point out with Islam, maybe left at the door when members speak inside of SCO

  • Salim Alvi

    Islam has become Weapon of Mass Destruction and Distraction in the hands of western elite. They used it against the natives of India, against Soviets and now against Iraq, Libiya, Egypt & Syria. Dharmic/Dhammic countries of Asia will come together. Hopefully they get rid of armed enslav8ng legions aka re8gions created by Romans & Bedouins.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Salim
    I do not know about just limiting it to the Western Media. The blanket condemnation of 1.5 billion people by the acts of a few is done by many media outlets. It is absurd to those who know. it is downright dangerous when taking on IS.
    Most Muslims
    never have the chance to make the Haj to Mecca
    never, or seldom if ever, pray 5 times a day
    seldom if ever where a Burqa or skull cap.
    Speak dozens of languages in over 50 odd nations in almost every continent of the world.
    are not murderous Jihadis.
    But the world media (both west and east) portray this image.

  • deliaruhe

    I can’t help but think this is a good thing.

  • Bianca

    Seldom do I hear much about the Charter of SCO. Yet, it is one of the most promising new organizing principles of the new global world. It is opposite from block-based organizing, such as EU or NATO, where members are controlled in the way they organize trade, tariffs, transit, energy, labor practices. One of the most glaring differences is in the concept of SCO freedom of trade, as opposed to Western free markets. Freedom of trade implies not only that members are not limited in choosing partners in trading, but also have the right not to trade — their markets will not be pried open by force, in the manner of EU rules. There are no quotas, although there are no rules that prohibit members to arrange their mutually beneficial trade by reciprocity. EU is a “free market”, for as long as you follow EU rules. In EU, all fruit trees are counted, including olive trees. Expanding any branch of economy requires EU involvement. In EU, member states can be forced to accept other member’s product for sale on their territory, even when it destroys their own capacities. These decisions are very unbalanced, as this is always forced on weaker states, not ever stronger. States in EU are guided in economic policy. For example, Greece has been since accession told to abandon its shipyards, shipbuilding and merchant marine, its cargo ports and railroads, so the trade loading/unloading shifted from Greece to Rotterdam and Hamburg. Chinese ships wait at Rotterdam on average 3 weeks for unloading. Greece was told that it had to put all of its energy into tourism and services, and to cushion the blow to economy, loans were given in the name of “transition” and “reform”. Much of that money was misspent, not just due to corruption — as the democratic rulers of Greece were in good standing with EU, but mostly because of poor choice of projects that did not result in expected boon to tourism. Today, when EU talks to Greece as deadbeat debtor, it will be wise to remember that Greece had a diversified economy because accepting EU “reforms”. Such ill conceived reforms are killing EU countries — especially new arrivals. Bulgaria that once fed Soviet Union and good chunks of Europe, today must import food from France and Spain. Loans are all built into such “trade” that helps more advanced economies, but at the expense of growing debt load upon weaker ones. This is only a FRACTION of examples of EU bureaucracy gone off the deep end. SCO had understood EU model, and decided in favor of a more organic, less controlled process. Additionally, SCO will not interfere with the political or social structures of member states, to allow for societies to evolve, not forcing upon them any particular model of governance. It amazes me to see how many analysts failed to notice how Russian and Chinese plans — deliberately left vague — tend to dovetail. The vagaries were for the benefit of western analysts that tended to see in such “separate” projects the proof of Russian and Chinese divergence on issues. Only lately, some are catching on. Good example is Chinese Silk Road and Eurasian Union. These are just two sides of the coin. One, the Union, provides legal and regulatory infrastructure for continent-wide transit. Without it, Chinese cargo trains could not travel efficiently. Now, they enter without obstacles into EAU in Kazakhstan, and enter EU in Poland. There is no need to stop at the borders of Russia or Belarus, until cargo enters Poland. Other countries, such as India, contributed to the process, so that when its cargo moves towards either European or Chinese markets, its key concerns are addressed. Chinese Silk road will in most cases refurbish old Soviet railroads and roads that went into decline following the dissolution of Soviet Union. But there are many new additions — namely, rail that is now connecting Kazakhstan, across Turkmenistan to Iran’s port on Persian Gulf. Piecemeal, capacities are added, such as a speed rail connecting Belgrade to Budapest, with the plans for improving rail capacities across Serbia, Macedonia and Greece to the cargo port now renovated by China in Greece. All of these efforts link to the joint efforts by China and Russia to connect Eurasian space. For Russia, it is critical Its Pacific coast needs economic development. For China, continental travel will become cheaper and certainly shorter then the uncertain issues revolving around see travel lanes. For both countries, development of Central Asia is key. Poverty and the lack of prospects is always attractive to extremists. India and Pakistan see their futures in the development of Eurasia, and are — away from prying eyes — discussing their disagreements. Same will be true after adding Armenia and Azerbaijan to the organization. With Turkey already being a partner, they can also quietly and with the help of Russia and China, tackle issues of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as contentious issue of Armenian genocide. The key is to get countries to start working on economic development and utilize their potential — while working on complex issues without being subjected to political exploitation of talking to the “enemy”. Addition of Nepal is significant, as the proposed economic belt China, Nepal, India — would take away the western obsession of “control of Nepal”. India and Sri Lanka can also tackle many issues within the protective environment of the group and good offices of the Organization. Addition of Cambodia is an interesting one. Given that Laos is very much close to China, politically and geographically, with addition of Cambodia, former Indochina is now in its center SCO integrated.
    It is very interesting how an old and stable core — SCO, is now attracting interest from Balkans, across Central Asia to Far East, and from the North Pole to Asian subcontinent. Given the resources, both natural and human, energy potential, transit potential and diversity that is being embraced — future looks good.

  • Salim Alvi

    But they do reject everything native, including language, culture, ancestral history… this leads to uprooting of converts who can be easily converted into cannon fodder for imperialist’s wars. Roots of Islamic terrorism is in this parasitic behavior of converts.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Salim
    the Muslim population of Pakistan (185 million), India (180 million) and Bangladesh (155 million) or a total of 520 million are mostly dirt poor. they work all day and through the week. They do not even have the money to go across the land let alone a haj, and that is not including the Muslims of Africa. 550 million is 1/3 of the 1.5 billion Muslims. they would generally be thankful for a steady job to feed themselves and their families.
    The horror of global radical Islamic terror is blinding us to the millions of people who are Muslims and do not want to be part of this or have no time.

  • Salim Alvi

    Angloes will use them to create havoc all over Asia. A generation or two back they used to have native names and spoke native language but today after Anglo’s prodding created Muslim League, Urdu made their mother tongue. Now any crook can fool them & use as vote bank

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    I think we have both laid our cases and we have to agree that we disagree. thanks

  • Salim Alvi

    I thought we agreed more than disagreed… About the language of Muslims in the subcontinent I wrote:

    Why would you want to revive something which caused uprooting of 30 Million in 1947, 11 Million in 1972, genocide of 1 Million in 1947 and 3 Million in 1971 and gang rape of 200,000 in 1947 and gang rape of 400,000 in 1971. Urdu which means Army Tent in Turki is the cause of dictatorship of few. It has made half of Pakistan illiterate. It is not just weapon of mass destruction but also of distraction for poor masses in the subcontinent.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Generally we did, but not on the last comment of yours when it was peppered with the word “anglo”. That kind of “blame game” is getting tiresome for me. The age of the Anglo Empire (British Empire) was 70 years ago. 70 years is long enough for people to start taking responsibility for their actions and not always blame the British. At least that is how I feel
    I know the British ended the use of Farsi in India which was a product of the Mogul Empire, and imposed Urdu.
    but when you just mention numbers, you are also dealing with Muslims of many different ethnic backgrounds
    2-3 million Bengali Muslims who speak Bengali and not Urdu, died of the Great Bengali famine in the early 1940s
    Then again in 1946-47 they saw their land cut in half because a Gujarati Muslim named Jinnah wanted that. His family settled in Karachi, but they came from Gujarat.
    Then again East Bengal had to face the carnage of West Pakistan (Karachi) where Muslim attacked Muslim and ethnicity was more dividing than uniting. Again Bengali Muslims suffered. Pakistani Muslims were largely to blame. India played a hand in it, but no the UK. by 71 the problems of the subcontinent were created by those people.
    As far as literacy goes Sri Lanka maintained a literacy rate of around 96% for both genders, before, during and after the longest war in Asia in the modern times,. 30 years of it, spanning 2 centuries,
    Germany was reduced to penury in the 30’s under the :Wheimar Republic, 1 million Germans died of starvation and neglect when the Mark was worth nothing. Under Nazi Germany she rose to become the world’s most powerful military and one of the world’s most powerful economies…from the ashes of the 1930’s. If Germany could have done that then –
    why not Pakistan or India or Bangladesh who never felt the full force of either world wars and who had, at that time, one of the world’s most advanced infrastructures”?

  • Salim Alvi

    Pakistan is Anglo baby. Moment they remove umbilical it will not last a day.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    I am NOT your ‘baby” you must be drunk

  • Salim Alvi

    Famine of 43 was because of BriShits grabbing of grains for their war effort. Genocide, rape and uprooting of Bangalis (mostly Hindu) of ’71 happened because Pakistan had support of Angloes. When I say Anglo, it includes the American deep state which is predominantly WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant). Angloes not only divided India but arbitrarily also the Mideast. India contributed almost 1 Million soldiers in death of European War I & II. It contributed almost 4 Million soldiers in those two wars. In resources it contributed much more than America in those wars.

  • Salim Alvi

    Jinah retired to England because he could not mix with Indian people and do politics. He was adept at evening club partying where he could come in Anglo dress and give a speech in conventy Angrezi after imbibing good amount of booze and when the room is filled with cigarette smoke. He cam back in 1936, after Anglos prodding and promises… Pakistani generals cannot even go to loo without permission from Angloes.

  • berger friedrich-wolfgang

    Recalling the Destruction & Annexation of the Khazarian CHANAT (Todays Ukraine , Caucasus States , Azerbeidjan) in 10th Century A.D. by SVJATOSLAV I. , We should know , that the ” Ashke-NAZI Royals” , their COURT & TREASURE Vanished without a Trace . At the Same Time appeared in Central EUROPE the Mysterious 13. Tribe of the JEWS! Ordinary SUBJECTS Dispersed and Mingled with Surrounding Nationalities of Islamic Religion ! Nowadays the Royals , occupying “City of London” , after having taken Over BRITAIN , and Conquered the EMPIRE of COLONIES (including USA) , are Reactivating their ME – SUBJECTS (ISIS) , to Finalize Planetary WORLD – DOMINANCE !!! Therefore , the ILLUSION , that ISIS has Anything in Common with ISLAM , is Pure Coincidence !

  • berger friedrich-wolfgang

    If You Subtract the TIME of the MOGULS !!!

  • berger friedrich-wolfgang

    Thanks for Offering this “Very Special VIEWPOINT” !!!

  • wulfenstraat

    Porn-Promoter! Liar! Pseudo-philosopher!!!!!