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
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.
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.