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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation


Often called as NATO of China, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is fast becoming a hotspot of
Geopolitics for the Eurasia region. The platform came in to existence on 26 th of April 1996 with the
signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of states
of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. The grouping was then
called as Shanghai 5 and was led by Russia, although immediately out of thee crippling economic
conditions after the fall of USSR, yet the most formidable power among the members of the Grouping
then.
However, in 2001 annual summit, once again held in Shanghai, Uzbekistan was admitted as a member of
the Grouping, and the official name of the grouping became Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO),
which was in the annual summit of 2002 held in St. Petersburg established as a multilateral organization
with the signing of SCO Charter.
The primary objective of the organization, as perceived was to strengthen the security situation of the
member states along with dealing the increasing threat of terrorism, which nearly all of its member states
were facing. The 2002 charter, which formally established the Organisation and propounded the
organisation's purposes, principles, structures and form of operation, for the first time enumerated its
objectives as Economic Cooperation and Cultural Cooperation along with Security Concerns and Military
activities.

The Organisation
The Secretariat of the SCO is the primary executive body of the organisation. It serves to implement
organisational decisions and decrees, drafts proposed documents (such as declarations and agendas),
function as a document depository for the organisation, arranges specific activities within the SCO
framework, and promotes and disseminates information about the SCO. It is located in Beijing.
As the Charter of the organization enumerates, the Council of Heads of State is the top decision-making
body in the SCO. This council meets at the SCO summits, which are held each year in one of the member
states' capital cities.
Whereas, the Council of Heads of Government is the second-highest council in the organisation. This
council also holds annual summits, at which time members discuss issues of multilateral cooperation and
also approves the organisation's budget.
However, these two council meetings are preceded by the Council of Foreign Ministers, also held
regularly, where they discuss the current international situation and the SCO's interaction with other
international organisations. The Council of National Coordinators coordinates the multilateral cooperation
of member states within the framework of the SCO's charter.
The amount of importance accorded to Anti-Terrorist activities accorded by this organisation can be
perceived from the fact of establishment of Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). The body,
headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote
cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism. The Head of
RATS is elected to a three-year term. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS.

Geopolitical Significance of the Organisation


SCO is fast becoming a platform for intense Geo-strategic maneuvering. As has been propounded by H. J.
Mackinder in his Geographical Pivot of History and later substantiated by the researches of Zbigniew

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Brzezinski, the Central Asian region has often been considered as the Heart land of Geo-politics as it can
prove to be key to control Eurasian Region and in turn Eurasia has the potential to control the rest of the
world.
It is often said that Russia and China have been paying attention to Brzezinski's theory, since they
formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001, ostensibly to curb extremism in the region and
enhance border security, but most probably with the real objective of counterbalancing the activities of
the United States and NATO in Central Asia.
This significance also increased with the fact of rising Political stature of China and prolonged presence
of US and western armed forces in Afghanistan. The present situation in Ukraine also fueled in the
significance of the Grouping.
Especially the condition of Ukraine is worth mentioning in this respect. With the annexation of Crimea,
Russia had to face numerous sanctions from the West, which even included its expulsion from the G-8
and boycott of Russian energy in Europe. The situation was economically extremely strenuous for Russia,
which was subsequently relieved by the involvement of its SCO ally China. China and Russia entered into
a deal of $ 400 Billion Gas amounting to 38 billion cubic meter annually in May 2014, which was latter
increased by another 30 billion cubic meter in the latter half of 2014. These deals reduced the dependency
of Russia on Western markets its gas export, whereas it also reduced the Chinese dependency on other
sources, as they amount to nearly 2/5th of total gas import by China.
The position presently maintained by Turkmenistan, which is not even an observer to SCO, has also made
the situation precarious. Earlier Turkmenistan and Ukraine entered into an agreement for gas sales and the
deal was practically mediated by the US, similarly the US pushed for another gas pipeline project namely
TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) to meet the demands of Indian gas imports. This
has made the situation more uncomfortable for Russia, especially since the joining of Ukraine in NATO.
Now, we have to realise the fact that all of these landlocked Central Asian countries are richly endowed
with natural resources, especially gas, which is the next big necessity of the world to meets its energy
requirement. Since these countries are all landlocked hence the politics of pipelines is extremely
important to provide them access to global market, which till date has been grossly controlled by
Gazprom of Russia. However, with China coming into the scene, there has been number of agreements to
connect many of these nations through pipeline with both Russia and China.

Significance of SCO from Indias point of view


It is an open secret that India has been trying to gain a foot hold in this region to counter balance the
Chinese weight and countering the Chinese move of strategically encircling India. This intension was
clear from the alleged military presence of India in Tajikistan, it is often alleged that India is maintaining
an airbase in Tajikistan. But this is just one half of the story.
The most pressing need for India gaining a strong foothold in this region is due to the immense potential
of energy resource in this region. Additionally, the regions promised the sign of a newly emerging market
for India. Say for example, Kazakhstan has been witnessing a robust growth in economic terms since this
decade, similar things can be said about Uzbekistan. Although Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have relatively
fallen back in terms of economic development but they too are betraying signs of resurgence and
additionally they have vast reserves of untapped energy resources, which can be channelised if India
along with Iran is able to develop a transit through Chahbahar port connecting these Central Asian
Economies through Afghanistan. In addition to these, the upcoming TAPI pipeline can also provide an
alternative to achieving this objective.
However, the success of these projects depend on the amount of success that Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation members can leverage in handling terrorism emanating in this part of the world. This is also

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an objective, which India needs these Central Asian Countries along with Russia and China to work
together, so that it can handle the menace terrorism is causing it back home.
Henceforth, if we try to list in brief the significance that SCO holds for India, It is:1.
2.
3.
4.

Countering the weight of China in such multilateral platforms.


Countering the possible encirclement of India by China.
Gaining the access of these Central Asian Markets through economic cooperation.
Gaining access to the energy & other natural resources that these Central Asian countries have to
offer.
5. After the completion of Economic and Infrastructural integration of South Asian (a direction
towards which some major strides have already been made.) to integrate these Central Asian
countries with India through Afghanistan, (whether through Pakistan or Iran), which has the
potential to create a win-win situation for these countries as well as India.
6. Creating a common platform to tackle the menace of terrorism, which even these countries are
facing.

Comment
In conclusion, we can say, the way of conflict is detriment to growth and is in no ones benefit, hence
forth, the upcoming admission of India and Pakistan in this multilateral platform and the possibility of
integration of Iran would convert this platform into one, which in all practical terms would represent
nearly 40% of the world population and 30% of the GDP.
Plus an economic integration of these countries, which is highly probable, would have the potential for
betterment of a vast majority of the world population.
The Organisation with its inherent mechanism to tackle terrorism can also be a pathfinder in handling the
global menace.

Confidential Document of Alternative Learning System (Pvt) Ltd. For internal students only
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