THE SCO AND THE WEST

Ruslan IZIMOV


Ruslan Izimov, Research Fellow, Department of Foreign Policy Studies, KISI under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


Introduction

The world community is showing an ever mounting interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which appeared in 2001 on the basis of the Shanghai Five. The United States (and the other NATO members for that matter) is apprehensive of Chinas stronger regional profile and the SCOs possible anti-Western vector for the simple reason that the Western political and academic community knows next to nothing about the new structure and the negotiations inside it. These fears do nothing for the relations between the SCO members and the West, where a large number of skeptical (at best) or even negative assessments have cropped up in numerous articles.

The relations between the West and SCO are developing under the impact of the bilateral relations between the United States and individual SCO members and their rivaling interests in many regions, Central Asia in particular. This means that future cooperation among the interstate security structures present in the region depends on whether the West revises its SCO policy and whether the SCO members (Russia and China in particular) reciprocate.

How the West Sees the SCO

Today, there is no agreement about the SCO and its policies in the world, however the number of positive Western assessments of its future is growing, probably because much more is being written about the organization. The West is gradually revising its formerly negative opinion.

In 2001, as soon as the Shanghai Five became a full-fledged regional organization, its members clearly outlined their aims and responsibilities. As a relatively new regional structure of multisided cooperation, the SCO is ready to talk to all states and multilateral structures and cooperate with them. According to the SCO Charter and other official documents, the SCO is a non-military organization; it does not act against third countries or international organizations. It aims at opposing the new non-traditional security threats.

The member states stand together against the transborder threats (international terrorism, religious extremism, and illegal trade in drugs and armaments) with no clear state borders. This means that the use of force is ineffective and that the member states should act together in the sphere of politics and diplomacy rather than building up their military-political capabilities.

It is not an anti-Western or an anti-American structure, since its members do not object to the regional presence of Western states and international organizations. None of its documents speaks negatively of the United States or any.


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