Vast potential for SCO to seek new opportunities
Published: Jul 02, 2024 07:09 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The world has seen major changes in global geopolitical architecture over the past decades, impacting both the political and economic components of the international system.

Therefore, regional organizations are of particular relevance for the Central Asian region, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Without the SCO, the two factors of economy and security in the development of Central Asia would have been in a less organized state.

The crisis in Ukraine, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the aggravation of the threat of international terrorism, have put on the agenda of the SCO the need to move to a new stage of its development.

Today, the SCO is the largest regional organization, uniting a number of key regions: Europe (Russia and Belarus), East Asia (China), South Asia (India and Pakistan), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan) and the Middle East (Iran). 

On July 3-4, the SCO summit will take place in Astana. The theme of the Astana summit will be "Strengthening multilateral dialogue - the pursuit of sustainable peace and development." As Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted at a meeting with the heads of the foreign ministries of the SCO member states, the agenda of the summit fully reflects one of the main goals of the organization - ensuring peace, security and stable development in the region. 

Many world players are not satisfied with the current model of development of international relations. For example, developing countries rich in strategic energy resources and agricultural products expressed dissatisfaction that in the emerging world hierarchy their voice was lower than the producers of luxury goods and virtual services.

The current level of globalization and the transition to strengthening regional ties has been an issue raised in the countries of the "golden billion," which seemed to benefit the most from the current situation.

Today, global logistics, transport and financial chains are being disrupted, and trade confrontation between the largest powers has intensified, directly affecting Central Asia. However, new challenges create new opportunities, especially for the SCO, which, like no one else, has powerful potential.

The SCO, despite all its achievements, is focused on intensifying its own efforts in all areas.

First, to ensure the security of the participating countries. This was clearly demonstrated by the successful Collective Security Treaty Organization operation, which helped Kazakhstan cope with the violence in early 2022.

The goal of the SCO is to ensure that all member countries are provided with a guaranteed level of security. The predecessor of the SCO, the Shanghai Five, managed to bring to consensus the thousand-kilometer borders by demilitarizing the legacy of the Cold War. An important event at the table was the promotion by one of the largest SCO participants, China, of its peace initiative to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which Kazakhstan supported. 

Additionally, within the SCO, a significant breakthrough was the adoption of a number of documents aimed at simplifying procedures for registering transport flows. The unified transport network within the SCO is already impacting the traditional infrastructure of the Central Asian region. These routes also lead to another active regional partner - Iran, which is a major energy partner of China.

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran managed to implement a project to build a cross-border railway, which created a new transport artery between East Asia and the Middle East by connecting Chinese and Iranian roads through Central Asia. The potential for building new railways, roads and other transport corridors using China's extensive investment and technological capabilities aligns with the interests of all SCO participants. Another advantage of the Chinese initiative is that it is not tied to the multilateral format, thus problematic issues do not depend on the consensus system. 

Today the SCO is going through a serious stage of transformation, responding to changes in the global situation, primarily the evolving role of China and Asia.

The SCO is seeking new opportunities to expand and deepen cooperation among its member countries, with a focus on strengthening the economic component to increase interdependence and bolster the political aspect. In the future, the SCO has the potential to become a key player in a multipolar world, with China expected to lead in economic and military power.

The author is director of the Center for Chinese Studies in Almaty, Kazakhstan. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn