Think tank gives vote of confidence in bloc

Updated: 2013-09-14 08:09

By Zhou Wa (China Daily)

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There are more opportunities than challenges ahead for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as it continues to develop and protect the interests of its member states, according to a report released on Friday.

The Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Social Sciences Academic Press jointly released the Annual Report on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (2013) ahead of an SCO summit on Friday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

"As an important regional multilateral cooperative bloc, the SCO works as a dependable and responsible organization that can safeguard the interests of all member states and thoroughly tackle various challenges," said the report.

Specifically, the SCO can help Central Asian countries "safeguard their territorial security, develop their domestic economies and improve their international status", according to the report.

The SCO is a Eurasian organization founded on June 15, 2001, in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to promote trade and military cooperation among member states.

It is in China's and Russia's interests to maintain and further develop the organization, the report said.

"Russia can use the SCO as a diplomatic tool to deal with challenges and pressures imposed (on the region) by Western countries and also resolve security and development problems through the SCO to wield greater influence over the region," according to the report.

One major benefit for China, the report said, is that the SCO can help Beijing "stabilize western and northern China".

The report calls for more attention to factors changing the geopolitical and economic structures in the region, including the global economic recession, the United States' Asia pivot in its foreign policy, the rapid development in emerging powers and the lasting turmoil in western Asia and North Africa.

But different strategic pursuits within different parties in the organization are hindering the SCO from implementing its plans, said the report.

"The SCO mechanism can work as a platform for different parties to coordinate their interests and maximize the common interests," said Zhao Huirong, a researcher on Central Asian studies with the CASS.

The report said the SCO must view regional security challenges as a high priority, particularly in the fight against terrorism, separatism, extremism, drug smuggling and transnational organized crimes.

"SCO members should make early preparations for the US military's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, enhance joint law enforcement with SCO observers, including Afghanistan, and strengthen the mechanism of joint military drills," said the report.

Ding Xiaoxing, a researcher on Central Asian studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the SCO must also boost exchanges between citizens of each member state.

 Think tank gives vote of confidence in bloc

Chinese firefighters participate in a joint rescue drill for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, in June. More than 1,000 rescue team members and medical workers from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan joined the drill. Yu Changlong / for China Daily

(China Daily 09/14/2013 page3)