Belt and Road Pros­per­ity for SCO

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Text by Li Jin­feng The au­thor is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter of SCO Stud­ies un­der the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences.

On June 9, 2017, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at­tended the 17th meet­ing of the Coun­cil of Heads of State of the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO) in As­tana, Kaza­khstan, and pro­posed build­ing a com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture through con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road. The sum­mit has charted the course for the SCO by clar­i­fy­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion fac­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion, as well as its new tasks.

The sum­mit wit­nessed a mile­stone event: In­dia and Pak­istan be­came new mem­bers of the SCO. As its mem­ber­ship grows, the SCO now cov­ers not only Cen­tral Asia but also South Asia, West Asia and the In­dian Ocean re­gion, with the com­bined pop­u­la­tion of its mem­bers ris­ing from 20 per­cent to 40 per­cent of the world’s to­tal, and the GDP of its mem­bers from 16 per­cent to over 20 per­cent. The SCO now in­cludes four nu­clear na­tions, which shoul­der a crit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity to main­tain world peace. The in­clu­sion of new mem­bers will pro­mote co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the SCO and BRICS coun­tries and help form a new plat­form for con­struc­tive di­a­logue be­tween China, Rus­sia and In­dia.

The in­clu­sion of In­dia and Pak­istan, how­ever, also means fu­ture chal­lenges for the SCO. First, the bor­der con­flict be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan will be the big­gest un­cer­tainty. Sec­ond, the SCO’S prin­ci­ple of con­sen­sus through con­sul­ta­tion in de­ci­sion mak­ing could be chal­lenged. Third, more re­spon­si­bil­ity will come with in­creased in­ter­na­tional in­flu­ence re­sult­ing from the ex­panded ge­o­graphic and de­mo­graphic range, so the SCO mem­bers must bet­ter de­velop their economies and ben­e­fit their peo­ples. Fi­nally, greater mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion, doubt and vig­i­lance against the SCO could arise in the West.

Pres­i­dent Xi de­clared at the sum­mit that the Shang­hai Spirit has in­spired a strong sense of sol­i­dar­ity, which en­sures the growth of the SCO, and that where there is sol­i­dar­ity, hap­pi­ness will fol­low. Aim­ing to con­vert chal­lenges into op­por­tu­ni­ties with per­sis­tent sol­i­dar­ity and co­or­di­na­tion, the SCO mem­bers, old or new, should stick to the Shang­hai Spirit and con­form to the Char­ter of the SCO and the Treaty on Long-term Good Neigh­bor­li­ness, Friend­ship and Co­op­er­a­tion.

The Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion, held in China this May, was an over­whelm­ing suc­cess. Con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road is fa­cil­i­tat­ing co­or­di­na­tion of devel­op­ment strate­gies be­tween the SCO mem­bers, such as the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union, headed by Rus­sia, and Kaza­khstan’s Bright Road. China’s co­op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia and Kaza­khstan has set a good ex­am­ple for other SCO mem­bers and ob­server states. The SCO has be­come a ma­jor plat­form for Eurasian coun­tries to co­or­di­nate devel­op­ment strate­gies and jointly build the Belt and Road. In­dia is ex­pected to en­dorse the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive af­ter its in­clu­sion in the SCO along­side Pak­istan, which will am­plify devel­op­ment strat­egy co­or­di­na­tion among coun­tries along the Belt and Road routes.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive will ac­cel­er­ate mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the SCO mem­bers via sign­ing and en­force­ment of an SCO trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion agree­ment, the for­mu­la­tion of a plan for co­or­di­nated devel­op­ment of high­roads among SCO mem­ber states, and the es­tab­lish­ment of a mech­a­nism for sub-na­tional co­op­er­a­tion. In ad­di­tion, al­liances will be formed in the fields of e- com­merce and eco­nomic think tanks, and the es­tab­lish­ment of the SCO Devel­op­ment Bank will be ex­plored. The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for the SCO to thrive, and plans and mea­sures for co­op­er­a­tion will push for­ward in­te­gra­tion of the SCO.

Pres­i­dent Xi also noted that se­cu­rity is a pre­req­ui­site for devel­op­ment, and that with­out se­cu­rity, there will be no devel­op­ment to speak of. Since last year, vi­o­lent ter­ror­ist at­tacks have been fre­quent in Europe, and ter­ror­ist forces in­clud­ing ISIS are ex­pand­ing, which has re­sulted in mount­ing pres­sure and in­creas­ing chal­lenges for SCO mem­ber states. China ad­vo­cates the sign­ing of the SCO Con­ven­tion on Com­bat­ing Ex­trem­ism, which will help curb the ex­pan­sion of ex­trem­ism, and make se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the SCO mem­bers more ef­fi­cient. China is will­ing to host the SCO joint coun­tert­er­ror­ism cy­ber ex­er­cise again and to hold a de­fense se­cu­rity fo­rum.

China sup­ports the SCO speak­ing with one voice on in­ter­na­tional and re­gional is­sues, which will help the or­ga­ni­za­tion play a big­ger and more con­struc­tive role in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. The SCO mem­bers will deal with chal­lenges through joint ef­forts and build a com­mon home of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity.

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