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SCO’s role recognized internationally

Author  :  Zhao Yuan     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-07-06

LONDON—The 17th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO) was celebrated on June 15th. The founding principles of the organization are known as the “Shanghai Spirit,” including mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development.

CSST interviewed scholars to get their views on how the Shanghai Spirit has guided the development of the organization as well as the role the SCO plays in supporting regional peace and prosperity.

R. Andreas Kraemer, founder of the Ecologic Institute in Berlin, Germany, saw the first function of the SCO as a regional organization for building trust and enhancing security. Kraemer contended that SCO is a valuable instrument for diffusing tensions in a region where strong players coexist alongside small or weak countries. The SCO can help manage the shifting geometry of power. Furthermore, the fact that India is “in the room” is good for future development.

SCO facilitates regional economic collaborations as well as the regional development of infrastructure and administrative trade facilitation. Initiated and promoted by China, the “Belt and Road”(B&R) initiative is, in some ways, the most visible action in the region. The key question is whether or not the countries and cities along the routes can develop diverse, yet complementary approaches in their economic and industrial development, and therefore create and take advantage of trading opportunities. The future role of the SCO shall focus on trade, commerce, infrastructure and environmentally sustainable development, Kraemer said.

John Ross, senior research fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said that the SCO was initially created to deal with a relatively narrow, if extremely important, a series of military and geopolitical issues—for example the suppression of terrorism which threatens many SCO states. But the SCO countries found that their common desire to create stability-and to fight terrorism, extremism and separatism-indicated wider agreement. This was to create a very large Eurasian region in which countries could pursue peaceful economic and social development. This corresponds to the fact that geopolitical stability must be based on economic and social development. Therefore, extending the SCO’s successful record in military, anti-terrorism and geopolitical development into economic and social cooperation is a key question facing the SCO.

Ross pointed out the SCO region is crucial to the development of world trade for two key reasons. First, the SCO is an area of regional stability in which member states can concentrate on peaceful and mutually beneficial economic and social development. This is shown clearly by contrasting the SCO to the surrounding region. Second, the economic potential of the SCO region is larger than that of the G7. IMF data predicts that in the period from 2017 to 2023, at current exchange rates, the full members of the SCO will account for 34 percent of world economic growth, and all members of the SCO, including observer states and dialogue partners, will account for 37 percent of world economic growth compared to only 32 percent in the G7.

Vijay Prashad, an Indian historian, said that cultural interactions are one of the most neglected areas in international relations. A serious attempt to understand the worldview of a country, its cultural diversity and its sense of itself in the world is essential. The SCO serves as a platform for cultural exchanges. Two large Asian nations, India and China, are natural partners that should be able to increase economic and cultural ties while strengthening political relations. India is now part of the SCO. It is hoped that the SCO could play a role in reinforcing trust between India and China.

Editor: Yu Hui

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