Expansion of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Hu Jintao

China’s official Xinhua News Agency says that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference on May 23 to reveal information on the coming June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Beijing.

In my Jan. 19 post “China’s Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere“, I mentioned China’s efforts in setting up a North Korean model to attract ASEAN countries and the possibility of the establishment of a greater Asia co-prosperity sphere centred on China. China has already entered into a free trade treaty with ASEAN, while the development of the SCO seems another part of the sphere.

According to the information released in the press conference, the summit will be presided by Chinese President Hu Jintao and attended by the presidents of five other member states Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the presidents or representatives of the four observers Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan and India and the Chairman’s guest countries Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Responsible persons of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent states, European Community and the Collective Security Treaty Organization will also be present.

At the conference, Vice Minister Cheng Guoping gave a briefing to more than 100 Chinese and foreign reporters on the background, great significance, major contents and expected achievements of the summit and answered reporter’s questions.

Cheng says that this year will be the beginning of the second decade of the SCO. Since China became chairman of the organisation last year, the organisation has achieved new development in consolidating unity and mutual trust and enhancing mutual support in the political field. Regarding security, the member states have strengthened development of their crisis early warning and joint law enforcement capabilities. They have made progress in their economic cooperation and achieved great increase in their mutual trade.

Cheng points out that due to the complicated and deep changes in the international situation, and the increase in factors of instability, member states’ desires and determination for expansion of the organisation have become increasingly urgent and firm. The summit will discuss the issues of accepting Afghanistan as an observer and Turkey as a dialogue partner of the organisation.

According to Hong Kong’s SCMP, due to the potential expansion, there is speculation “whether the SCO could develop into a fully fledged regional group, like ASEAN, or a platform to counter NATO’s influence”.

Cheng says, “the heads of the member states will approve at the summit the ‘Strategic Scheme for Medium-term Development of the SCO”, which will set consolidating mutual trust, safeguarding security, promoting development, improving people’s living standards and intensifying mutual exchange as priorities for development of cooperation in the future. It wil also formulate specific effective measures of implementation, with the goal of turning the SCO into a pragmatic and highly efficient platform of cooperation for protection and development of the common interests of the member states.

It is believed that the SCO may become an organisation similar to ASEAN to facilitate member states’ economic development. That will certainly expand China’s greater Asia co-prosperity sphere. As for growing into a platform to counter NATO’s influence, though the Strategic Scheme mentions protection of member states’ common interests, China’s major interests are mainly in the Pacific; therefore countering NATO in the Atlantic obviously has nothing to do with China’s interests.



Categories: Politics & Law

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2 replies

Trackbacks

  1. May 25 2012 China Daily Mail Headlines « Craig Hill
  2. China’s dream of a greater Asia co-prosperity sphere « China Daily Mail

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