Upcoming SCO summit has special meaning as India, Pakistan step in

By Chen Yu

The 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit will be held in the coastal city of Qingdao in China’s Shandong province on June 9-10. China again hosts the summit since it was held in Beijing in 2012. The SCO has developed a new type of regional cooperation and a community of shared future. The organization plays an important role in promoting regional stability and development using the new type of international relations that promote win-win cooperation.

The SCO gives priority to regional stability. Its member states signed the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism when the organization was founded. In 2004, the SCO set up the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure as one of its permanent organs. Member states also signed other security cooperation documents, such as the SCO Convention Against Terrorism, the Anti-drugs Cooperation Agreement and Agreement on joint Fight Against Crimes.

Member states also conducted counter-terrorism exercises, collaborated on providing security for major events and cooperated in combating cyber terrorism. Thus the SCO cooperation has been gradually expanded into wider areas including strategic security, defense security, law enforcement security, information security, anti-drugs, anti-money laundering and fight against organized transnational crime.

The threats of terrorism, separatism and extremism have been increasing in Eurasia, in addition to illicit drug trafficking and arms trade. Fighting the “three evil forces” has never been a more important task for the SCO. In the upcoming summit, the SCO Council of Heads of State will approve a program of cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2019-21, and will discuss a draft on preventing abuse of narcotics and psychotropic substances. Such measures will safeguard regional peace and security, and contribute to the anti-terrorism fight in the world.

Security collaboration and economic cooperation serve as the “two wheels” of the SCO. Member states signed the Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation, and set up SCO China Industrialist Committee and SCO Interbank Association. They have made progress in energy cooperation, transportation and telecom infrastructure construction.

The SCO is also playing an increasingly important role in promoting the Belt and Road initiative (BRI). China has won wide support by linking the BRI to SCO member states’ specific development plans. In 2015, heads of states attending the SCO summit in Ufa agreed to support the Silk Road Economic Belt. The upcoming SCO summit will also ratify a series of documents to further promote cooperation in trade and economy within SCO framework.

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges in the SCO have also kept their momentum. Multiple documents in education, culture, disaster relief and public health have been signed by SCO member states and nearly 100 recreational and sports activities been organized. The friendship between people is the foundation of state-to-state relations. Social and cultural cooperation will not only prove a boon to mutual understanding and friendship among people, but will also be a cornerstone of members’ cooperation in politics, economy and security.

The upcoming summit will also be the first summit since the SCO accepted India and Pakistan as members and thus has a special meaning.

As President Xi Jinping noted in September 2014, “To expand external exchanges and bring in new members serve the need of a growing SCO that is inherently open and inclusive.” The SCO has gained higher international status and has become the biggest regional organization with the largest population and potential after India and Pakistan became its members.

However, the two countries also brought new issues to the SCO. To resolve problems, the member states should stick to the “Shanghai Spirit” of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.

The 2018 SCO summit will also ratify a five-year outline for the implementation of the Treaty on Long-term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Member states might discuss measures to deepen cooperation and reach a consensus on important international and regional issues to enable the SCO to better play a role in safeguarding regional security, promoting common development and prosperity, and making international order a fairer and more reasonable one.

The author is assistant research fellow at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. 

Originally Published: Global Times

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