Ro­mot­ing con­struc­tion of a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity was iden­ti­fied as a key goal and task of China’s diplo­macy in both the re­port to the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) in Oc­to­ber 2017 and the

China Pictorial (English) - - Features -

con­cept on other SCO mem­ber states, nor did it cause a fun­da­men­tal change in the guide­lines of China’s for­eign pol­icy. While main­tain­ing its pre­vi­ous diplo­matic prin­ci­ples, China is be­com­ing more ac­tive and en­ter­pris­ing in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. Nev­er­the­less, it still in­sists on de­vel­op­ing state-tostate re­la­tions with part­ner­ships or even strate­gic part­ner­ship rather than al­liances. China will never in­ter­fere in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of other coun­tries, but only con­trib­ute through “con­struc­tive in­volve­ment.” Al­though China will never seek hege­mony, it may still play a lead­ing role in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, aban­don­ing the “never take the lead” prin­ci­ple that the coun­try adopted just af­ter the end of the Cold War.

Sec­ond, build­ing a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity doesn’t mean that China is at­tempt­ing to use the SCO to forge a new or­der to re­place the cur­rent world or­der. China’s at­ti­tude to­ward the cur­rent world or­der is clear: As part of the world or­der, China is a pro­tec­tor and re­former. The cur­rent world or­der doesn’t be­long to the U.S. nor does it in­volve “peace un­der the rule of the U.S.,” but is rep­re­sented by the United Na­tions and its sys­tem as well as other in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, es­pe­cially in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and mul­ti­lat­eral trade mech­a­nisms. De­spite the fact that the sys­tem re­mains im­per­fect and has some ma­jor de­fects in terms of equal­ity, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, fair­ness and ef­fi­ciency, the cur­rent world or­der still has the great­est de­gree of open­ness, in­clu­sive­ness, progress and free­dom in hu­man his­tory.

Third, build­ing a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity, sim­ply speak­ing, em­bod­ies the re­al­iza­tion of global gov­er­nance. Global gov­er­nance re­quires joint ef­forts from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as well as in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion based on mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism. This is the fun­da­men­tal rea­son China pro­posed build­ing a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity. Cur­rently, China is play­ing an im­por­tant role in global gov­er­nance. Since the end of the Cold War, mul­ti­ple in­ter­na­tional plat­forms and mech­a­nisms have been es­tab­lished to ad­dress com­mon chal­lenges faced by hu­mankind, and the SCO is one of them.

The con­cept of a “com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity”

con­sists of three key com­po­nents: “com­mu­nity,” “shared fu­ture” and “for hu­man­ity.” By dis­sect­ing the phrase, we can bet­ter an­swer the fol­low­ing ques­tions: What kind of com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity is the SCO? Why is the SCO a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity, and how should it per­form as one?

First, “for hu­man­ity” means the SCO is peo­ple-cen­tered. A free world or­der must be peo­ple-ori­ented. How­ever, this doesn’t mean it should ig­nore dif­fer­ences be­tween dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Presently, hu­man­ity is a com­mu­nity of many in­di­vid­ual na­tions which com­prise many in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing re­gional and in­ter­re­gional ones. Geo­graph­i­cally, the SCO is a trans-re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tion, rep­re­sent­ing a new type of re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tion. In this sense, the SCO it­self can be seen as a new “re­gion.”

Sec­ond, SCO mem­ber states, as well as their so­ci­eties and peo­ples, are in­ter­de­pen­dent, with a “shared fu­ture.” A re­sult of glob­al­iza­tion af­ter the end of the Cold War, the SCO is a group of do­ers in the world in a re­gion where all coun­tries de­pend on each other. In­ter­de­pen­dence be­tween coun­tries was al­ready a re­al­ity in Europe by the he 19th cen­tury, but not un­til the sec­ond nd half of the 20th cen­tury did hu­mans s de­velop sys­tem­atic knowl­edge about ut such in­ter­de­pen­dency. In the 1970s, Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists Robert Keo­hane and Joseph Nye both dis­cussed ed “in­ter­de­pen­dence” from the an­gle of power. The SCO sets another im­por­tant rtant ex­am­ple for in­ter­de­pen­dence be­tween en coun­tries and peo­ples.

Fi­nally, the SCO is a new type of re­gional com­mu­nity. It sharply con­trasts rasts other re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Euro­pean Union (EU), the African can Union and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east heast Asian Na­tions in terms of ori­gin, aim, m, struc­ture, in­sti­tu­tion and pri­or­i­ties, but at the same time shares some sim­i­larir­i­ties with them from the per­spec­tive of re­gional com­mu­nity.

Over the past 17 years since its in­cep­tion, the SCO has fo­cused on se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion, forg­ing an ef­fe­cec­tive co­op­er­a­tive mech­a­nism in the field. The SCO has emerged as a se­cu­rity com­mu­nity. Un­like ei­ther NATO based ased on U.S. hege­mony or the EU with co­mom­mon se­cu­rity pol­icy, it is a new type of se­cu­rity com­mu­nity.

What is the na­ture of the SCO as a

se­cu­rity com­mu­nity? In my opin­ion, the SCO rep­re­sents a re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion mech­a­nism—an in­ter­na­tional congress sys­tem led by ma­jor coun­tries such as Rus­sia, China and In­dia and fea­tur­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion from many other smaller na­tions in Cen­tral Asia, South Asia and the Mid­dle East. In par­tic­u­lar, the ad­mis­sion of In­dia and Pak­istan to the SCO con­sol­i­dated its na­ture as a re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion mech­a­nism.

Some of­ten con­fuse “col­lab­o­ra­tion” with “co­or­di­na­tion.” In fact, “col­lab­o­ra­tion” is far more com­pli­cated than “co­or­di­na­tion” and can ex­ert long-term ef­fects on world peace. The first and most suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion sys­tem so far has been the Con­cert of Europe, which was the pri­mary driver of a “Cen­tury of Peace” in 19th-cen­tury Europe. The es­sen­tial com­po­nent of the sys­tem was a Euro­pean congress sys­tem, which was even ac­claimed by some as a “civ­i­liza­tional achieve­ment of the 19th cen­tury.” Aus­tro-hun­gar­ian eco­nomic his­to­rian and so­ci­ol­o­gist Karl Polanyi elab­o­rated on the topic in his book The­great Trans­for­ma­tion:the­p­o­lit­i­ca­land Eco­nomi­co­ri­gin­sof Our­time .

Af­ter the end of World War II, the United Na­tions, with an aim to elim­i­nate wars glob­ally, and the Euro­pean Com­mu­nity that eyed pre­vent­ing wars re­gion­ally, were founded and quickly be­came in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion sys­tems that made the Con­cert of Europe ob­so­lete. Then, the EU was formed on the ba­sis of the Euro­pean Com­mu­nity. It still in­her­ited the na­ture of its pre­de­ces­sor: re­plac­ing war with peace and hos­til­ity with sol­i­dar­ity. The long-held dream of “last­ing peace” in Europe even­tu­ally ar­rived un­der the frame­work of the EU. For this rea­son, the EU was awarded the 2012 No­bel Peace Prize.

As global gov­er­nance be­comes a ma­jor topic in the re­search of in­terna- tional re­la­tions, some schol­ars ar­gue that the Con­cert of Europe marked the ori­gin of global gov­er­nance in the 19th cen­tury. The ex­pan­sion of SCO mem­ber­ship tes­ti­fies to a boost in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s sus­tain­abil­ity and com­plex­ity. It is note­wor­thy that the en­larged SCO is also fac­ing in­creas­ing in­ter­nal con­flict and in­sta­bil­ity. For in­stance, con­flict be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan re­mains, the U.S. army has yet to com­pletely re­treat from Afghanistan, the Ira­nian nu­clear is­sue is one of the sever­est threats to global nu­clear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion (sec­ond only to the Korean Penin­sula nu­clear cri­sis in terms of sever­ity) and the world is still grasp­ing for a fun­da­men­tal so­lu­tion to the long-term stand­off be­tween Iran and the U.S. In this con­text, some schol­ars be­lieve that the legacy of the Con­cert of Europe should re­main in­spir­ing for the pro­mo­tion of world peace in the 21st cen­tury, as a the­ory on global gov­er­nance to avoid war and pre­vent con­flict.

The SCO, whose role was once ig­nored, has also in­tro­duced new top­ics that de­mand at­ten­tion such as in­ter­na­tional mar­itime is­sues. The China-pro­posed Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive in­te­grates land and mar­itime is­sues con­cern­ing the SCO. Hold­ing the SCO sum­mit in the coastal city of Qing­dao is in­tended to re­mind peo­ple of the im­por­tance of mar­itime is­sues in the SCO col­lab­o­ra­tion mech­a­nism.

In ad­di­tion, the SCO should serve as both an eco­nomic and so­cial com­mu­nity. It still needs to do bet­ter at en­hanc­ing eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion. The SCO will be­come a stronger or­ga­ni­za­tion when it be­comes a real eco­nomic com­mu­nity. Af­ter all, eco­nomic growth is the foun­da­tion of de­vel­op­ment for all coun­tries. SCO mem­ber states have also car­ried out co­op­er­a­tion in the ex­change of non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and on other so­cial is­sues. For in­stance, th­ese coun­tries reg­u­larly par­tic­i­pate in the SCO Peo­ple’s Fo­rum and think tank fo­rums on pub­lic pol­icy and en­gage in co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas like ed­u­ca­tion, science, cul­ture, health and sports. All of th­ese are push­ing the SCO to­wards a so­cial com­mu­nity.

Po­si­tioned at a new start­ing point, the SCO needs to re­de­fine it­self. With the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ro­tat­ing chair­man­ship this year, China has pro­vided a new def­i­ni­tion for the SCO: a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for hu­man­ity—namely, a re­gional com­mu­nity of com­mon se­cu­rity, eco­nomic col­lab­o­ra­tion and so­cial co­op­er­a­tion.

Founded as a per­ma­nent in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cus­ing on anti-ter­ror­ism and build­ing of a new se­cu­rity con­cept, the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO) has evolved into a new his­tor­i­cal phase. In June 2017, In­dia and Pak­istan be­came full mem­bers of the SCO, mak­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion the most promis­ing re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tion, ac­count­ing for 43 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and 24 per­cent of its GDP, with mem­bers from Cen­tral, East and South Asia.

The ex­pan­sion of the SCO means it now in­cludes three ma­jor emerg­ing coun­tries: China, Rus­sia and In­dia. In to­day’s geopo­lit­i­cal con­text, the SCO demon­strates dif­fer­ent think­ing and de­mands for the cur­rent global gov­er­nance mech­a­nism. Clearly, since the U.S. troops with­drew from Afghanistan in 2011, the SCO, as a re­gional architecture, has played an im­por­tant role in main­tain­ing re­gional sta­bil­ity and pro­mot­ing re­gional de­vel­op­ment.

Cen­tral Asia and South Asia: So Close Yet So Far

Cen­tral Asia is the core of the SCO. For a long time, Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Ta­jik­istan and Uzbek­istan have main­tained a com­pli­cated con­nec­tion with Rus­sia in term of his­tory, ter­ri­tory, econ­omy and trade. Since the 1990s, China has been strength­en­ing eco­nomic re­la­tions and en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion with Cen­tral Asian coun­tries.

As a re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tion, the SCO must care­fully han­dle his­tor­i­cal, ge­o­graph­i­cal and eco­nomic links be­tween Cen­tral and South Asian coun­tries. His­tor­i­cally, they were con­sid­ered to hail from the same cul­tural ori­gins and ge­o­graph­i­cal plate and even ex­pe­ri­enced fierce cul­tural col­li­sion and fu­sion in Afghanistan. In the mid-19th cen­tury, Rus­sia con­quered the Khanate of Bukhara ra and the Khanate of Khiva, re­sult­ing ng in the sep­a­ra­tion of Cen­tral Asia and South Asia geo­graph­i­cally. Later, ter, Afghanistan and Cen­tral Asia served ved as the bridge link­ing the core area of the Soviet Union and sub-re­gion of South Asia. Af­ter the Soviet Union n col­lapsed, even though they are still ill in­flu­enced by Rus­sia, Cen­tral Asian n coun­tries chose their po­lit­i­cal sys­tems ems ac­cord­ing to their own na­tional condin­di­tions. Again, Afghanistan has be­come ome a cut-off point be­tween Cen­tral Asia and South Asia.

In 2015, In­dia ap­plied for memm­ber­ship in the SCO, mak­ing it pos­si­ble sible for the coun­try to con­nect Cen­tral l Asia with South Asia at a strate­gic level. There is his­tor­i­cal base for the he con­nec­tion be­tween In­dia and Cen­tral ntral Asia—afghanistan, Turkey, Greece ce and Mon­go­lia all once reached the e In­dian plains. Af­ter the par­ti­tion

of In­dia, its ge­o­graph­i­cal link with Cen­tral Asia was cut off by Pak­istan, leav­ing In­dia dis­con­nected from Cen­tral Asia. Ex­cept for co­op­er­a­tion in ura­nium min­ing with Kaza­khstan, In­dia has lit­tle in­ter­ac­tion with Cen­tral Asian coun­tries. As for se­cu­rity, In­dia is plagued by ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan and longs to com­bat ter­ror­ism through in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion.

From a wider an­gle, as an emerg­ing de­vel­op­ing coun­try, In­dia has a vo­ra­cious ap­petite for en­ergy con­sid­er­ing the Modi ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “Make in In­dia” and “Rein­dus­tri­al­iza­tion” pro­grams. In­dia has al­ready be­come the fourth largest en­ergy con­sumer in the world. The Oil Mar­ket Re­port 2018 is­sued by the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency fore­cast that by 2023, the world’s oil de­mand would reach 104.7 mil­lion bar­rels per day, 6.9 mil­lion bar­rels more than that in 2017. China and In­dia are ex­pected to con­trib­ute nearly 50 per­cent of the global growth in oil de­mand, with In­dia’s growth rate in­creas­ing slightly. Be­tween 2012 and 2040, In­dia’s oil con­sump­tion is pre­dicted to main­tain a com­pound an­nual growth rate of three per­cent, the fastest in the world. To­day, In­dia still re­lies on the Mid­dle East and In­done­sia for its en­ergy im­ports through marine trans­porta­tion via the Per­sian Gulf and Malacca. If In­dia can ac­cess en­ergy in Cen­tral Asia via land routes, it could di­ver­sify its en­ergy im­ports to pre­vent seaborne risk while cut­ting the cost of en­ergy im­port­ing.

As for Pak­istan, its en­try into the SCO was mo­ti­vated by the do­mes­tic se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion and a “chain re­ac­tion” af­ter In­dia’s ap­pli­ca­tion. Since 2001, the U.s.-led war in Afghanistan has kept Pak­istan at the fore­front of the fight against ter­ror­ism, which has proved quite costly for the coun­try.

En­ergy Cor­ri­dor: More than Pipe­lines

In­dia’s de­mand for the en­ergy of Cen­tral Asia was on its agenda long ng be­fore its en­try into the SCO. In May 2012, af­ter years of ne­go­ti­a­tion, In­dia, ndia, Pak­istan and Turk­menistan signed d an im­por­tant agree­ment on con­struct­ing ting the Turk­menistan-afghanistan-pakik­istan-in­dia (TAPI) nat­u­ral gas pipe­line. line. It is gen­er­ally be­lieved that break­throughs in the TAPI project can be at­trib­uted to the great sup­port from m the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank over the past decade. Cer­tainly, the im­provee­ment and re­in­force­ment of U.S.-INn- dia strate­gic re­la­tions meant the U.S. .S. greatly pushed the progress of TAPI. API.

If TAPI can move for­ward, the e di­rect ben­e­fi­ciary should be Afghanin­istan. Just in­come from en­ergy tran­sit sit will pro­duce a great deal of rev­enue, e, let alone in­fra­struc­ture re­lated to the he pipe­line and other mea­sures that will ill spark lo­cal eco­nomic growth. Alongng­side its eco­nomic growth, Afghanistan stan is ex­pected to re­store sta­bil­ity. In­dia a will win strate­gi­cally by con­nect­ing to Cen­tral Asia through TAPI, a move e which not only guar­an­tees In­dia’s ener- ner-

gy sup­ply but also in­tro­duces it to Cen­tral Asia, mak­ing it an im­por­tant player in the re­gion. Cer­tainly, con­sid­er­ing the re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan, the former can de­clare that the progress of TAPI could even al­le­vi­ate old grudges be­tween the two coun­tries. And in Cen­tral Asia, Turk­menistan may be the big­gest ben­e­fi­ciary be­cause it will earn a for­tune by adding another big buyer, In­dia, fol­low­ing China, to di­ver­sify its ex­ports and pre­vent the strate­gic risk of be­com­ing too de­pen­dent on the Chi­nese mar­ket.

How­ever, the de­vel­op­ment of TAPI does not look op­ti­mistic. In March 2013, the launch cer­e­mony of the Iran-pak­istan nat­u­ral gas pipe­line was held at the bor­der of Iran and Pak­istan. Af­ter the cer­e­mony, the two coun­tries signed agree­ments to es­tab­lish trad­ing ports in their bor­der cities of Gabd and Pishin and build an Ira­nian petroleum re­fin­ery in Pak­istan’s Gwadar City. Ob­jec­tively, the ad­vance­ment of Iran-pak­istan re­la­tions does not help TAPI’S prospects. Run­ning from north to south, TAPI is ex­pected to trans­fer en­ergy from Cen­tral Asia to South Asia and in­ter­sect with the east-west Iran-pak­istan pipe­line. The two pipe­lines in­volve the di­rect in­ter­ests of Iran, In­dia and Pak­istan, so the U.S. and Rus­sia and even some Cen­tral Asian coun­tries have in­ter­est. And in 2014, the sub­stan­tial with­drawal of NATO from Afghanistan re­sulted in changes of the coun­try’s sit­u­a­tion. All th­ese fac­tors make the prospects of the two pipe­lines more com­pli­cated.

Against this back­drop, in 2017, with the strong sup­port of Rus­sia, In­dia be­came a full mem­ber of the SCO, which en­ables it to ac­cess Cen­tral Asian re­sources with an in­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tee. At present, Iran and Af- ghanistan are ob­servers of the SCO. Af­ter its en­try into the SCO, In­dia ob­tains the le­gal right to step into Cen­tral Asia and a green light to turn to Cen­tral Asia and Rus­sia for en­ergy se­cu­rity. Of course, as one of the founders of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, China wel­comes In­dia’s ad­mis­sion and has shown sin­cer­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion to elim­i­nate the trust deficit and strate­gic gap be­tween the two coun­tries.

Con­nec­tiv­ity: Ex­plor­ing New Pos­si­bil­i­ties of the SCO

With the ad­di­tion of In­dia and Pak­istan into the SCO, Cen­tral Asia, the core re­gion of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, has been closely con­nected to South Asia via China’s western bor­der ar­eas and Afghanistan. And the vast­ness of Rus­sia, along with China’s large mar­ket, has made the SCO the most in­tact and promis­ing re­gional architecture in Eura­sia.

Con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Cen­tral and South Asia has some ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture in place now. Since China pro­posed the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, the eight full mem­bers of the SCO as well as many ob­servers and di­a­logue part­ners have aligned with China’s de­vel­op­ment strat­egy at var­i­ous lev­els. For ex­am­ple, Kaza­khstan pro­posed its “Bright Path” and “New Econ­omy Pol­icy” to align with China’s Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt. Uzbek­istan and Kyr­gyzs­tan also have signed agree­ments on co­op­er­a­tion with China un­der the frame­work of the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt. Ad­di­tion­ally, China and Rus­sia have en­hanced strate­gic and prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion in the realms of en­ergy, high-speed trains, aerospace, in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion and the de­vel­op­ment of the Far East re­gion.

Mean­while, the China-pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) has har­vested early fruits, ev­i­denced by the con­struc­tion of the Gwadar port and progress in in­fra­struc­ture like en­ergy and roads. The projects of CPEC are scat­tered across Pak­istan, in­volv­ing 60,000 lo­cal work­ers in their con­struc­tion. In the next five to seven years, CPEC is ex­pected to cre­ate 500,000 jobs in the coun­try, whose eco­nomic growth and sta­bil­ity will bring pos­i­tive im­pact to its neigh­bor­ing coun­try Afghanistan.

How­ever, con­nec­tiv­ity within the SCO still has some real prob­lems. De­spite be­com­ing a mem­ber of the SCO, In­dia still main­tains a neg­a­tive at­ti­tude to­wards the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive solely be­cause CPEC passes through the con­tro­ver­sial Kash­mir re­gion. In 2017, the Dong Lang stand­off dragged re­la­tions be­tween China and In­dia to the low­est point in his­tory, greatly rais­ing the deficit of strate­gic mu­tual trust. In this con­text, in April 2018, the in­for­mal meet­ing be­tween two coun­tries’ lead­ers can be seen as a re­sump­tion of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

In the new era, as ma­jor emerg­ing coun­tries in Asia and SCO mem­ber coun­tries, China and In­dia need to sur­pass tra­di­tional geopo­lit­i­cal logic marked by com­pe­ti­tion and rep­re­sented by the “Asia-pa­cific re­bal­anc­ing strat­egy,” fab­ri­cated “string of pearls” or “Indo-pa­cific.” The two Asian neigh­bors need to fo­cus on their ma­jor strate­gic in­ter­ests, cul­ti­vate new fuel for re­gional eco­nomic growth and ex­plore new mod­els for fu­ture in­ter­ac­tion be­tween them. At some spe­cific points, the two coun­tries may have to con­sider ex­chang­ing some in­ter­ests in or­der to con­trib­ute to the SCO’S in­no­va­tive co­op­er­a­tion.

At the As­tana sum­mit of the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO) in 2017, In­dia and Pak­istan be­came full mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. The de­vel­op­ment marked the SCO’S first ex­pan­sion since its es­tab­lish­ment in 2001.

All eyes are on the east­ern Chi­nese coastal city of Qing­dao in Shan­dong Prov­ince, which will host this year’s sum­mit of the SCO, the world’s most pop­u­lous re­gional bloc, from June 9 to 10. This will be the first SCO sum­mit since Pak­istan and In­dia be­came full mem­bers of the body at its As­tana sum­mit in Kaza­khstan last year.

The SCO’S eight mem­ber states now in­clude China, Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Rus­sia, Ta­jik­istan, Uzbek­istan, In­dia and Pak­istan. The states host nearly half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and cre­ate over 20 per­cent of global GDP.

Op­por­tu­nity and Chal­lenges

Re­la­tions be­tween Pak­istan and In­dia have re­mained tense since their in­de­pen­dence in 1947. Af­ter fight­ing three wars, they have come close to more wars sev­eral times in re­cent decades. Both coun­tries are mem­bers of the South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC), but that re­gional bloc has failed to achieve sub­stan­tial progress, pre­cisely be­cause the pair can hardly share the stage at the fo­rum.

With this bag­gage in tow, Pak­istan and In­dia have been ad­mit­ted to the SCO, which is con­sid­ered a co­he­sive body. A new­found chal­lenge for the SCO is to calm two quar­rel­ing coun­tries and foster a win-win out­come.

We have al­ready seen mod­est progress by both coun­tries to re­solve their bi­lat­eral is­sues and con­trib­ute to SCO goals in re­gional de­vel­op­ment. The usual cross-bor­der fir­ing in­ci­dents along the Line of Con­trol (LOC) and oc­ca­sional ex­change of harsh words con­tin­ued last year. Usu­ally, only af­ter the Di­rec­tor Gen­er­als of Mil­i­tary Op­er­a­tions (DGMOS) get on the phone to­gether are is­sues deesca­lated.

Some sym­bolic progress, how­ever, has come to pass. While main­tain­ing ag­gres­sive stances against each other on the sur­face, the two will par­tic­i­pate in a joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise to counter ter­ror­ism in Rus­sia in Septem­ber un­der the SCO’S 2018 Peace Mis­sion. How­ever, real progress will be eas­ing ten­sions and launch­ing bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion on all mat­ters, trade in par­tic­u­lar.

If we merge the SCO with the China-pro­posed Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, SCO mem­ber states will fur­ther im­prove cross-bor­der lo­gis­tics condi- tions and in­crease ca­pac­ity. Some ma­jor joint projects have been com­pleted eted in the re­gion, in­clud­ing high­ways, rail­ways and power plants. Ac­cord­ing ng to of­fi­cial fig­ures, China has built 21 1 eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion zones ones within SCO coun­tries so far.

Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion

It is yet to be seen how In­dia and Pak­istan will be­have as full mem­bers ers of the SCO.

This is an elec­tion year in Paki- stan. When the SCO sum­mit takes place, the ten­ure of Pak­istan’s cur­rent ent govern­ment led by Pak­istan Mus­lim m League-n will end and a pro­vi­sional al govern­ment will go into place be­fore ore a new govern­ment takes charge in Au­gust. Elec­tion re­sults will de­ter­mine mine how ties with In­dia take shape. For­eign eign and se­cu­rity poli­cies in Pak­istan are e un­der the army’s con­trol which sees s In­dia as an en­emy. A hung par­lia­ment ent may not tilt to­wards peace with In­dia ia as Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif did af­ter fter he won the 2013 gen­eral elec­tion

How­ever, if Sharif ’s party re­turns to power with ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment, the SCO ban­ner will be a god­send to the civil­ian govern­ment nt to make peace with In­dia and open en bi­lat­eral or tran­sit trade.

Re­gion­ally speak­ing, it is in China’s ina’s in­ter­est to re­turn peace to Afghani- -

stan, which has ob­server sta­tus in the eight-mem­ber body. It is still plagued by bomb blasts that cause mas­sive ca­su­al­ties on daily ba­sis. But Pak­istan and In­dia dis­trust each other on their re­spec­tive roles in Afghanistan. For in­stance, In­dia’s in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ment goals in Afghanistan are seen as strate­gic in­roads by Pak­istan’s army.

Fur­ther­more, nei­ther the four-mem­ber Quadri­lat­eral Co­or­di­na­tion Group (QCG) mech­a­nism, which in­cludes China, the U.S., Afghanistan and Pak­istan, nor bi­lat­eral frame­work un­der the Afghanistan-pak­istan Ac­tion Plan for Peace and Sol­i­dar­ity (APAPPS), has seen much progress. same page on how to deal with In­dia. Some an­a­lysts be­lieve that the army’s In­dia-cen­tric strat­egy is an at­tempt to se­cure more bud­getary re­sources in the poor coun­try. Civil­ians largely want to deal with In­dia as a neigh­bor with which they have is­sues but still carry on as other na­tions do, and give diplo­macy a chance.

Both Pak­istan and In­dia are nu­clear pow­ers so war is not an op­tion.

At the same time, both Pak­istan and In­dia are poor coun­tries with much of their pop­u­la­tion liv­ing below the poverty line. They can learn a thing or two from the SCO’S ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency: China brought its ex­treme poverty rate from 88 per­cent in 1981 to less than 3 per­cent in 2018.

If a weak govern­ment re­turns to power, the army will main­tain the sta­tus quo. A strong civil­ian govern­ment could deal with In­dia with more con­fi­dence, and the re­gion could fi­nally see some peace.

If and when peace re­turns, tourism alone could be­come a big eco­nomic boost for the re­gion. Along­side re­gional se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, another ma­jor pri­or­ity of the SCO is tourism de­vel­op­ment. SCO mem­ber states have seen a ma­jor surge in tourism within the bloc, both in­bound and out­bound.

The Way For­ward

In­dia will be a ma­jor ben­e­fi­ciary of the 18th SCO sum­mit in Qing­dao. China has been warm­ing up to In­dia af­ter the Dong Lang (Dok­lam) stand­off last year. So far China has failed to se­cure In­dian sup­port for the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive for two key rea­sons: One of the projects, the China-pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC), passes through Pak­istan-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir, and In­dia sees the Ini­tia­tive as am­bi­tion for re­gional or global dom­i­na­tion.

De­spite In­dia’s reser­va­tions, both coun­tries’ for­eign and de­fense min­is­ters have vis­ited each other’s cap­i­tals to pre­pare for the Qing­dao sum­mit.

China’s for­eign min­istry, how­ever, is as­sur­ing Is­lam­abad that closer co­op­er­a­tion with In­dia will not be a detri­ment to Pak­istan.

On the other hand, Pak­istan’s me­dia and pol­i­tics duo (cou­pled with mil­i­tants wreak­ing havoc on frag­ile Pak­istan) could be blamed for Pak­istan’s lost op­por­tu­ni­ties.

So, will Pak­istan ben­e­fit from the SCO frame­work to in­crease eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for its mil­lions of poor? How will re­la­tion­ships with neigh­bors like In­dia, Iran and Afghanistan bet­ter shape Pak­istan’s SCO mem­ber­ship up­grade? And, will Pak­istan’s politi­cians and me­dia be­have dif­fer­ently now that they are part of a dif­fer­ent league? The jury is still out.

How­ever, a way for­ward is only pos­si­ble if the me­dia and politi­cians mend their ways. When it comes to in­ter­na­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, politi­cians need to aban­don petty pol­i­tics. In­stead of con­spir­ing to time street ag­i­ta­tions at ev­ery global op­por­tu­nity that comes Pak­istan’s way, they need to ap­peal to vot­ers based on re­spec­tive per­for­mances in their gov­erned prov­inces.

SCO mem­ber­ship should only help Pak­istan open doors. It re­quires our own na­tional ef­fort across two pil­lars—me­dia and pol­i­tics—play­ing vi­sion­ary and fu­tur­is­tic roles, to help Pak­istan reap the ben­e­fits and, like China, lift our mil­lions out of poverty. This is the only way.

Gift for Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions

Sow­ing seeds for sci­en­tific re­search in the hearts of Ti­betan stu­dents was cru­cial to Zhong. He could have never ex­plored the trea­sure trove of the plateau alone. Over the years, Zhong had al­ways been as­sisted by young Ti­betan schol­ars.

Zhong launched the first mas­ter’s and doc­toral pro­grams for eco­log­i­cal stud­ies at Ti­bet Univer­sity in 2011 and 2013, re­spec­tively. He led the bi­ol­ogy de­part­ment in a rise to the top in China. Over 16 years, Zhong tu­tored six doc­tors and eight mas­ter’s stu­dents there. Most of them joined Zhong’s re­search team af­ter grad­u­a­tion. In 2011, they ob­tained fund­ing from China’s Na­tional Nat­u­ral Science Foun­da­tion for a project, the first-ever in Ti­bet.

As a botanist and ed­u­ca­tor, Zhong was en­thu­si­as­tic about spread­ing knowl­edge about na­ture. He spent con­sid­er­able time com­pos­ing il­lus­trated text for the Shang­hai Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum on di­verse sub­jects rang­ing from as­tron­omy, ge­ol­ogy and bi­ol­ogy to hu­man­i­ties.

Bao Qi­jiong over­sees the work of pre­par­ing for all the back­ground in­for­ma­tion for items on dis­play in the mu­seum. When she brought the in­tense task to Zhong, he ac­cepted with­out hes­i­ta­tion. “He was al­ways so busy trav­el­ing be­tween Shang­hai and Ti­bet, but Zhong would visit us even when he had half a day off,” Bao re­calls. “He never missed a de­tail, be it a sin­gle word or a punc­tu­a­tion mark.”

Ac­cord­ing to Bao, the pro­fes­sor also pro­vided rare snake sam­ples and helped trans­port frog sam­ples from the Qing­hai-ti­bet Plateau to the mu­seum. Th­ese sam­ples help il­lus­trate the for­ma­tion of the very plateau it­self.

At the mu­seum, Zhong de­liv­ered pub­lic lec­tures to el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents. He al­ways had a way to ex­plain bi­ol­ogy in sim­ple lan­guage and arouse in­ter­est among chil­dren. The botanist was al­ways full of hope for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Zhong named his twin sons af­ter plants, Yun­shan (spruce) and Yun­shi (Mysore thorn), one is gym­nosperm and the other an­giosperm.

“All life comes to an end even­tu­ally,” Zhong once de­clared. “I am fear­less be­cause my stu­dents will con­tinue our sci­en­tific ex­plo­ration. The seeds we gath­ered could take root and ger­mi­nate sev­eral hun­dred years later to re­al­ize the dreams of many.”

liza­tion of im­ported waste leads to great dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Once dubbed the “Global Elec­tronic Waste Town,” Guiyu in Guang­dong Prov­ince re­cy­cled old elec­tronic prod­ucts by crudely dis­man­tling im­ported elec­tronic trash, which caused se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion to the lo­cal air, wa­ter and soil. Back in the mid-1990s, Guiyu’s un­der­ground wa­ter was too pol­luted to drink. In 2009, a phys­i­cal check of the vil­lagers un­der Guiyu’s ju­ris­dic­tion showed that 80 per­cent of pri­mary and ju­nior high school stu­dents suf­fered from res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases. And a sur­vey in 2011 showed that 25 per­cent of lo­cal new­borns had too much chromium in their bod­ies.

“We have spent nearly a decade up­grad­ing the in­dus­trial struc­ture, curb­ing pol­lu­tion and aid­ing the vic­tims, so Guiyu’s sit­u­a­tion is im­prov­ing,” said Pro­fes­sor Du Huanzheng, founder of the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ment project for Guiyu and di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Re­cy­cled Eco­nom­ics at Tongji Univer­sity in Shang­hai. “But some dam­age to both peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment is ir­re­versible.”

“Ban­ning haz­ardous waste and re­strict­ing solid waste im­ports are im­por­tant mea­sures China is tak­ing to im­prove its en­vi­ron­ment and pro­tect pub­lic health,” said Dong Zhan­feng. And ac­cord­ing to the Basel Con­ven­tion on the Con­trol of Trans-bound­ary Move­ments of Haz­ardous Wastes and Their Dis­posal, ev­ery coun­try has the right to ban the en­try of for­eign haz­ardous waste and other sorts of waste. China is a party to the con­ven­tion.

Erik Sol­heim, un­der-sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram, be­lieves the ban on for­eign garbage is the right choice for China. He stressed that China has the full right to pro­tect its peo­ple from the plague of for­eign rub­bish.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties Be­hind Chal­lenges

Many coun­tries dropped into trash pan­de­mo­nium af­ter China’s an­nounce­ment of the ban, as did some of China’s do­mes­tic en­ter­prises. For ex­am­ple, in the re­cy­cled plas­tic mar­ket, do­mes­tic sup­pli­ers could hardly fill the gap of sev­eral mil­lion tons, which drove the price of used plas­tic per ton in China to 8,000 yuan, 50 per­cent up com­pared to 2015.

But the ban will force both the do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional re­cy­cling in­dus­try to up­grade.

“Af­ter the ban, re­lated com­pa­nies will have to turn their eyes to the do­mes­tic mar­ket,” Dong pre­dicted. “But Chi­nese com­pa­nies vary in terms of scale and level, and their tech­niques lag far be­hind some of their for­eign coun­ter­parts. Con­se­quently, en­ter­prises us­ing high tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tive tech­niques will en­joy a bet­ter fu­ture and those with­out such advantages will shut down or trans­form. So, in the short term, the ban will cause a neg­a­tive im­pact on some com­pa­nies, but in the long run, it will be good for the whole in­dus­try and fa­cil­i­tate a tech­no­log­i­cal up­grade.”

“We need to im­prove our skills in re­cy­cling and uti­liz­ing our own waste, while ban­ning im­ported waste,” notes Pro­fes­sor Liu Jian­guo with the School of En­vi­ron­ment at Ts­inghua Univer­sity. “A key rea­son that de­vel­oped coun­tries have formed an ex­ten­sive in­dus­try in­volv­ing solid waste ex­ports is that they use very strict sys­tems for waste sort­ing. This ex­port-ori­ented solid garbage clas­si­fi­ca­tion en­hances the scale and ef­fec­tive­ness of ef­forts to re­cy­cle waste pa­per and plas­tic. So strict waste sort­ing can en­hance en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and eco­nomic growth as well. We need to pro­mote it ac­tively with greater ef­forts.”

Michael J. Sch­nei­der, spokesper­son from Re­mondis, Ger­many’s largest en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices provider, noted that China’s ban has ex­erted great pres­sure on re­lated en­ter­prises in Ger­many and other Euro­pean coun­tries, but at the same time, put them on the alert. He be­lieves that this will push the eco­nomic de­ci­sion-mak­ers of Ger­many and the Eu­ro­zone to re­assess their own re­cy­cling in­dus­tries and take the nec­es­sary mea­sures to adapt.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.