THE SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION: OPPORTUNITIES FOR RUSSIA

Maxim STARCHAK


Maxim Starchak, Chairman of the Youth Department Advisory Board, Russian Association of Political Science (Moscow, Russia)


Introduction

The striving of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) for leadership is being increasingly manifested within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which plays an important role on the world political arena. After transformation of the Shanghai Six into a regional organization, China, with the aim of further increasing its political and economic influence in the region, was able to insist on the organizations secretariat being located in Beijing.

In order to achieve its goals, the PRC is taking the following steps within the framework of the SCO:

strengthening trade relations with the Central Asian states granting them multibillion loans;

exerting active efforts to gain a stronger foothold in the oil and gas fields of Central Asia;

skillfully using the SCO in the fight against separatism in the XUAR;

actively preventing the spread of U.S. influence in Central Asia;

implementing educational programs for the young people of the Central Asian countries.

By continuing to reinforce its position in the region and in the SCO, China is trying to acquire the status of the organizations informal leader.

However, despite Chinas activity, Russia, which is pursuing its own national interests in the region engendered by the historical close ties that have developed with the Central Asian countries, also has every opportunity to significantly increase its influence in the SCO.

Security ProblemsOpportunities for Russia

The SCO, which is heir to the Shanghai Five (formed in 1996 to resolve the border disputes among China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan), was created in mid-2001. The organization declared fighting the three evilsterrorism, separatism, and extremismto be its main political priority.

However, apart from drawing up various proposals and recommendations, gathering and analyzing information, and holding regular anti-terrorist exercises, the activity of the SCO and Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), which began functioning in 2004, has not yielded any specific results so far. The organizations member states have no internal mechanisms for responding to terrorist group assaults or separatist demonstrations, there are no unified headquarters for coordinating joint action, and no spheres of responsibility have been determined.

By the end of its chairmanship in the SCO (2009), Russia had succeeded within the framework of RATS in drawing up a Convention against Terrorism, an Agreement on Training Staff for Anti-Terrorist Formations, and.


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