V. Timoshenko – Shanghai Cooperation Organization: East Versus West?

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The interest of the world community in the activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was growing from year to year. But it was two or three years ago. Now situation is change. After the new escalations of tensions between Russia and The West because of Ukraine crisis the mass media of the west began to ignore Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In July 2015 there was a summit of SCO and BRICS in Ufa – the capital republic of Bashkortostan. The mainstream of West mass media ignored this event. It was seemed very strange, because in the summit took place very important event. India and Pakistan joined to SCO. And now the members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization are Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. The total area of the SCO member countries is more than 34 million square kilometers, its 60% of the territory of Eurasia. The total population of the SCO is more then 3 billion, half population of the world. China’s economy – the second economy in the world. India is also one of the biggest country. And this half population of the world is not control by the USA and the West countries. How is possible to ignore this fact?

As you know that Shanghai Cooperation Organization – an international organization founded in 2001 by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. July 10, 2015 in the SCO entered India and Pakistan. Except Uzbekistan, the other countries are members of the “Shanghai Five”, founded in 1996-1997 between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan. The main goal of the “Shanghai Five” was agreements on confidence-building in the military field and mutual reduction of armed forces in the border area. That time administration of Bill Clinton didn’t find something danger for the US interest from this organization. SCO is not a military alliance (such as NATO), or open a regular meeting of the security (such as ASEAN ARF), and has an intermediate position.  The main objectives of the organization was declared the strengthening of stability and security over a wide area, the fight against terrorism, separatism, extremism, drug trafficking and economic cooperation, energy partnership, scientific and cultural cooperation.

The problems for the West started in 2005 when in Astana SCO summit took a declaration calling on the US to withdrawal of American bases from Central Asia, stationed in the area (in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) to support the actions of US troops against the regime “Taliban” in Afghanistan. The answer to the Astana Declaration was the 2005 Resolution of the US Congress expressing concern over the statement of the SCO, which was regarded as a “China and Russia attempt to puss the United States from the region”. Later US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized Russian foreign policy doctrine. He said Russia, China and North Korea may interfere (Помешать) with security cooperation between the countries of Southeast Asia. He said that “Russia wanted to limit the freedom of neighboring countries, lack of transparency in China’s military spending, as well as the threat of North Korea in the nuclear field”. According to Rumsfeld, Tehran’s cooperation with the SCO is illogical because Iran is a terrorist state itself. Generally, all meetings of the leaders of the SCO disappointed  Washington, where it is believed that the SCO is becoming more and more anti-American. NATO countries support US position and start to blame Russia and China in creating anti-west alliance. Despite the fact that the SCO has positioned itself as a regional organization, which builds its policy on the maintenance of security in Central Asia, some Western scholars have emphasized the obvious opposition of the organization of the NATO countries, particularly the USA or that Shanghai cooperation organization were created in the period of greatest deterioration of relations between America, China and Russia. Accession to the Shanghai cooperation organization new members — India and Pakistan — a concern in the West that the world is becoming multipolar. This point of view is given in the article under the title “the New Eastern bloc: China, Russia and India join forces”, published in Newsweek. This publication, commenting on the expansion plans of the SCO, said that “this international organization, which is virtually unknown in the West should announce that soon will include States representing half the world’s population”. According Newsweek the idea is to expand influence of the SCO in South Asia and to maintain its claims to the role of counterweight to the international institutions which appeared after the Second World War and played a leading role under the control of the West.

According to Russian observers, the West has overlooked the establishment of the SCO as a full-fledged Eurasian organization. The SCO was taken in the West as small group, which was engaged in regional affairs. And suddenly, at the summit in Ufa there was a breakthrough: the expansion of the organization goes to the South Asia. The SCO becomes the Manager of Eurasia. Russia and China began to built Eurasian space which is extremely important from geopolitical and economic point of view. In fact, China as a new superpower creates its policy on the continent. The interests of Russia coincide with the interests of China. Started the process of forming non-Western world in the vast space. Russia becomes one of the leaders of non-Western multipolar world. Moreover, it is very important that parallel to the summit of the SCO held a meeting of the BRICS. It displays the integration of the non-Western world at the global level, especially in economic and financial terms.

The question is Shanghai Cooperation Organization real East Versus West?

From my point – “No” for several reasons.

The first – SCO never declared its goals as against somebody. But in the same time SCO is a platform to block Western players in Central Asia. Neither Russia nor China wants Americans on this territory now because great tensions between these countries.

The second, Russia, and especially China, too value their relations with the West to break them building a variant of a military-political Alliance which will be West antagonist.

The third, Russia and China in Central Asia are not only partners but also competitors. Russia a look very attentively, how the Chinese play its game. Russians don’t look at China too emotionally because Chinese unlike Americans not teach other countries how to live. They are going to dominate through economy, using its economic presence. In the future it will may transform into greater political power, and in Russia understand this very well. Russia does not want Chinese domination in this region.

Most likely, in the future Western and non-Western world will develop in parallel. But as the rise of China the format of the SCO will be strengthened and expanded. It is not excluded that in the near future the SCO will be joined by Iran. To BRICS, may join Indonesia. In short, there is a rise of the non-Western world.

V. Timoshenko

Source: APIR Center

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