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Two new memberships; One Upgrading SCO

Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 8 Juin 2017

Keeping this in mind, it is easy to reveal the accession of India and Pakistan will not impact the effectiveness of this organization. With two new memberships, the new model of regional cooperation will upgrade into a higher level in the following aspects:

Yanzhuo Xu, IWEP, CASS

This June witnesses SCO’s first expansion since its establishment in 2001. The inclusion of India and Pakistan during the SCO’s summit in Astana is even more significant if we keep an eye on the fact that regionalization is shrinking in Europe and America. When we compare the two tendencies, it is worthy to ask what is the reason for people from developed countries chose to leave multilateral organization, while the developing countries, in contrast, continue to work closely with each other?

To answer this question, it is necessary to figure out the nature of SCO, a multilateral organization where its Asian members’ traditional understanding of community differs from that of the European countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping has highlighted “Shanghai Spirit” in the last summit in Tashkent, which values of “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respects for diversified civilizations and pursuit of common development”. It implied the non-interference in domestic affairs and peaceful coexistence within SCO framework.

The secretary general of the SCO, Rashid Alimov’s speech echoed with President Xi’s advocacy. He also argued the new nature of SCO. He said SCO offered a new mode for the international relation system and provided a more balanced, equal and effective development approach. Their explanation on the values of SCO reflects Asian countries’ different requirements and appeals of regional security and economic cooperation framework, hence, different expectation on regional cooperation in SCO. Instead of a shared identity, a collective threat and an enforcement mechanism like western organization, Asian members prefer well-protected sovereignty and national interests in front of regional cooperation.

Obviously, the enthusiasm of joining a regional organization lays on the feasible solution it could provide rather than an enforcement mechanism, because it is not hard for state to choose to leave the organization when its decision is not compatible with national interests. Meanwhile, it is easy to vote for passing a proposal, yet it is difficult to solve the issues in international society. In this case, the cooperation decisions in SCO are made case by case after prudent calculation on member’s own interest, rather than a fixed principle or a goal. It looks into the origins of security issues and seeks to solve the crisis fundamentally with the agreements of member states, while avoids a rush intervention and the negative consequences going with it. The running and effectiveness of SCO lays on the comfort of member states.

Keeping this in mind, it is easy to reveal the accession of India and Pakistan will not impact the effectiveness of this organization. With two new memberships, the new model of regional cooperation will upgrade into a higher level in the following aspects:

1. Political Clouts and Influence

Having Indian and Pakistan in group, SCO will become the largest regional security organization, which covers 44% of the world population, 25% of the global GDP and three out of five BRICS. The expansion to South Asia and West Asia allows SCO to connect with other influential regional organization, like ASEAN and SAARC, which not only enhance its influence and voice in regional affairs, but also facilitate the coordination among central, south and south-east Asia. In addition, given India’s regional status and international reputation, SCO is expected to increase its influence in South Asia and Indian Ocean as well as to develop in a more open, inclusive and non-antagonistic way. India’s membership sends a clear message that SCO is not targeted at any country or organization, which is the best response to former critics and doubts.

2. Regional Stability

This enlargement is an attempt to create a dialogue platform for regional tension and crisis. As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in her comments on the accession, “I see the journalists from Pakistan sit right here, while journalists from India sit over there. Maybe someday you can sit closer to each other.”Even if it is too early to predict the possible bilateral meeting between India and Pakistan in the coming few SCO summits, SCO has created a dialogue and diplomatic mediation platform for them and provide an opportunity to ease the escalating tension in South Asian Sub-Continent. Meanwhile, it is known that the on-going border disputes remain China-India’s major political issue, a full-fledged membership allows the two Asian powers to establish an institutional connection within the organization and to avoid the escalating or misjudgment of current disputes.

3. Regional Cooperation

Economic cooperation and connections served as a foundation of SCO, the expansion of membership will enlarge the range and scale of internal economic benefits. China, Russia and India with their different economic development path respectively have all maintained fast growth. The coordination among these three economies will provide broader markets for member states, as well as alternative economic developing experiences. It is believed that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under China’s Belt and Road initiative is a major reason for Beijing’s support of Pakistan’s involvement, yet along with India’s membership simultaneously, Delhi has a good reason to re-consider its role in B&R initiative. Meanwhile, for the central Asian republics, they will have the opportunity to diversify their cooperation with the big powers in SCO. In this case, the economic cooperation among member states will evolve from bilateral ties to multilateral nets, which shapes SCO closer to its value of Shanghai Spirits.

In an era of anti-globalization and protectionism, obviously the enlargement of SCO implies that the organization develops towards a more balanced, sustainable and self-concerned direction, which not only echoed with the international doubts on regionalism, but also attempted to provide a solution from developing countries’ perspective. With two new flags rising in SCO headquarters the organization will be upgrading in its size and model of cooperation.

(Source: People’s Daily)

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