China's leading role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

26-06-2015

China is one of the six founding members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was established in 2001 as a regional organisation for non-traditional security cooperation between China, Russia and four Central Asian states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Although the SCO Charter sets out a broad array of objectives and potential areas of cooperation, the SCO has so far focused on, and gained most visibility through, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. For China, as for the other members, the SCO represents a new and unique cooperation model, reflecting its vision of a multipolar world order as opposed to cooperation models based on US hegemony and unilateralism. Since the SCO's inception, China has pushed its agenda and has successfully pursued its national security, geopolitical and economic interests. It has used the SCO umbrella as a multilateral platform to address external threats posed by non-state actors on its vulnerable western border; to gain a strong economic and political foothold in Central Asia without putting the Sino-Russian strategic partnership at risk; and to enhance its energy security through large-scale infrastructure investment in, and trade with, the Central Asian member states. A first expansion in SCO membership, expected for July 2015, and the looming security vacuum in Afghanistan could both raise the SCO's regional and international profile and present new challenges. For further information on the SCO as a whole, please see our companion briefing which provides an overview of the Organisation.

China is one of the six founding members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was established in 2001 as a regional organisation for non-traditional security cooperation between China, Russia and four Central Asian states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Although the SCO Charter sets out a broad array of objectives and potential areas of cooperation, the SCO has so far focused on, and gained most visibility through, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. For China, as for the other members, the SCO represents a new and unique cooperation model, reflecting its vision of a multipolar world order as opposed to cooperation models based on US hegemony and unilateralism. Since the SCO's inception, China has pushed its agenda and has successfully pursued its national security, geopolitical and economic interests. It has used the SCO umbrella as a multilateral platform to address external threats posed by non-state actors on its vulnerable western border; to gain a strong economic and political foothold in Central Asia without putting the Sino-Russian strategic partnership at risk; and to enhance its energy security through large-scale infrastructure investment in, and trade with, the Central Asian member states. A first expansion in SCO membership, expected for July 2015, and the looming security vacuum in Afghanistan could both raise the SCO's regional and international profile and present new challenges. For further information on the SCO as a whole, please see our companion briefing which provides an overview of the Organisation.