Cooperation stressed as SCO expands

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/8 23:23:39

India and Pakistan will be officially admitted into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) when the group kicks off its annual summit today in Astana, Kazakhstan, expanding the organization from six to eight members.

The enlargement will have implications on several fronts. First, the organization will reach beyond the geographic scope of China and Russia plus Central Asia to include South Asia. Covering 41 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the global economy, the organization will be given more influence.

The inclusion of India and Pakistan will add to the political dimension of the SCO, whose members' value systems, characteristics of national development and core concerns will be more diversified.

From its inception, the SCO had different features from geopolitics-centered organizations such as NATO, which has a dominating voice which uses the organization to serve its national interests. The SCO, built on an equal footing and adhering to the non-alignment principle, focuses on collective regional goals, such as anti-terrorism. The interests of one member have never transcended the collective interests and it has never been used as a geopolitical tool.

The admission of India and Pakistan has created worry over whether their long-standing hostility would be brought to the SCO, instigating internal disputes. It is expected the organization can create more shared interests by fostering multilateral cooperation, laying the foundations for solving divergences. It won't be an easy job. However the organization must face such tests as it expands.

India has relatively close relations with Russia, and has kept its distance from China in recent years. How India's participation in the SCO will influence the organization's internal leadership has been discussed a lot. Most of the discussion is framed by traditional thinking. The SCO is not a place for leadership competition. Some Indian media should free itself from outdated views, and embrace new patterns of regional cooperation.

The development of the SCO has not been fast, but it has been stable. Terrorism in Central Asia has been contained, and the organization's initial missions have been basically realized. Compared with the situation before the SCO was founded, the political stability and economic prosperity of Central Asia has witnessed an upward trend, which brings tangible benefits to most people in the region.

This robust and positive tradition is worth encouraging after the expansion of the SCO. If the success of suppressing terrorism and spirit of cooperation can be expanded to a broader area, the SCO will have more guiding significance in the world.

The SCO together is the largest emerging market in the world. The SCO can play a constructive role to reconcile initiatives and plans offered by various countries. It is worth noting that almost all SCO member states place promoting economic and social development as their national priority.

The SCO represents new thinking and new practices in international politics. It is hoped that the Astana summit will become the SCO's new milestone.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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