New decade for SCO

By Wang Lijiu
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, June 14, 2011
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In the new decade, the SCO faces fresh challenges which need to be discussed and solved at Astana and following summits.

The most urgent problem is the organization's status and expansion. Although the number of member states has not grown over the past decade, the ranks of observers and dialogue partners have grown. At present, some observers have formally applied for membership, and other countries outside Central Asian have applied for observer and dialogue partner status. In June 2010, the Tashkent Summit approved the Regulations on the Procedure for Admitting New Members to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Procedure Rules of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. But there are still lots of problems with this process in practice. For example, is there a regional restriction for member state status? In another words, should the SCO stick to its geographic center – Central Asia? Should all member states border one another? Or should the SCO develop into a broader, more flexible organization?

The second issue is how to balance consultation and work efficiency. Consultation addresses the equality among member states, but easily slows down decision-making. However, changing the principle of consultation will weaken the spirit of SCO and slow down its development. Thus, finding equilibrium between the two should be an important issue in future.

The third problem is how to expand common interests among member states, observers and dialogue partners. Fighting terrorism, separatism, extremism and drug trafficking are common interests for all member states. Security cooperation is a long-term focal point for the SCO. But on the economy, besides trade liberalization, it is hard to find a program that can attract all member states' participation. How to explore and allocate resources to benefit all member states is a new question that needs to be discussed.

The fourth issue is how to develop relations with CIS and other regional and international organizations. At present, the SCO, Collective Security Treaty Organization of CIS and Eurasia Economic Community share some of the same member states. Although SCO and CIS have signed some cooperation agreements, these documents do not fully solve problems that come up in practice. Both sides should work together to study how to combine their advantages and resources.

The last is how to keep China and Russia as the" twin cores" of the SCO. The establishment and development of the SCO depends on close Sino-Russian ties. So far, this precondition is still being met, and the basis for expanding the SCO is secure. But China and Russia have different views on how to develop Central Asia. China hopes to enhance bilateral economic cooperation with Central Asian countries and help them accelerate their development. But Russia has felt pressured by the rapidly growth of economic cooperation between China and Central Asian countries. It is worried that China will threaten its traditional power in the region. How to alleviate these concerns will depend on the breadth and depth of common interests reached by Chinese and Russian diplomats.

The author is a research fellow with Institute of Russian Studies of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

(This article was written in Chinese and translated by Li Shen.)

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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