India, Pakistan set to become members of SCO
Updated: 2015-07-07 07:38
By Zhang Yunbi(China Daily)
India and Pakistan are on their way to joining the six-nation, trans-Eurasia Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, according to a senior Chinese diplomat who confirmed that moves to admit the countries will begin soon.
The SCO, which focuses on maintaining regional stability and combating terrorism, currently consists of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India and Pakistan are currently SCO observer states, along with Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia.
President Xi Jinping will attend the 15th meeting of the Council of SCO Heads of State on Thursday and Friday in Ufa, capital of Russia's Republic of Bashkortostan.
Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping confirmed on Monday that matters due to be approved at the summit include "initiating the procedure for accepting India's and Pakistan's entry into the SCO".
To pave the way for admission, SCO members at September's leaders' summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, approved two key documents regarding the procedure for granting membership and the obligations of states applying for it.
Yang Cheng, deputy director of the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said the expansion will increase the SCO's global influence and status, since India and Pakistan are major South Asian nuclear powers. In addition, the SCO "possibly will see its role boosted in resolving the Afghanistan issue".
Yang said the SCO "will serve as a lever to help reduce contradictions between India and Pakistan" when it comes to jointly fighting terrorism.
Sun Zhuangzhi, an expert on SCO studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the grouping will have to make some adjustments after accepting new members to address issues such as languages, staffing and budgeting.
The complicated ties between India and Pakistan should be taken into consideration by the SCO member states, Sun said.
Li Hui, China's ambassador to Russia, told the Interfax news agency on Sunday that the SCO is expected to further boost security cooperation to guard against infiltration of the region by extremists.
Also on the main agenda for the Ufa summit will be the ratification of the SCO Development Strategy for the period up to 2025, a comprehensive blueprint that covers a variety of issues.
Cheng said the region faces "mounting downward pressure on the economies of all the countries", and development strategies will be determined at the upcoming summit.
Documents to be signed include an agreement on border defense among member states plus joint declarations on the 70th anniversary of victory in the world's anti-fascist war and drug issues.
(China Daily 07/07/2015 page1)