SCO's regional action has global significance

China Plus Published: 2018-06-11 17:35:32
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By Zhao Ying

This year's Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao has come to a close with sure signs of deepening regional coordination and new action plans for Eurasian security, economic and trade links and people-to-people exchanges among the member countries.

On regional issues, SCO members ratified, among others, two action programs. They include a three-year outline for cooperation on combatting terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as a five-year outline for the implementation of the "Treaty on Long-Term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation." One deals with security threats, while the other deals with areas involving development and mutual trust.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (6th R, front) poses for a group photo with other leaders and guests ahead of the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 10, 2018.[Photo: Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping (6th R, front) poses for a group photo with other leaders and guests ahead of the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 10, 2018.[Photo: Xinhua]

When it comes to global affairs, the SCO's Qingdao Declaration calls for "a new type of international relations" surrounding the idea of building "a community with a shared future for humanity."

The two-day event dispersed earlier doubts and "warnings" that expansion of the SCO membership may lead to discord. The Qingdao Declaration stresses that "the inclusion of India and Pakistan into the SCO has lifted cooperation in various areas to a new level."

With the expansion of the SCO to include India and Pakistan last year, the regional grouping now accounts for 40% of the world's population, almost 20% of global GDP and 22% of the world's land mass. It's a hugely diversified grouping, with many of the members holding differing viewpoints in areas such as politics, culture, ideology, ethnicity, religion and language. In short, each member is different, sometimes with their own disputes over issues such as borders, terrorism, ethnic or religious affairs.

But no disharmony was evident during the two-day event in Qingdao, with so-called "rivals" displaying both tolerance and inclusiveness within the SCO framework.

The show of unity was in sharp contrast to the discord at the G7 summit held in Canada almost simultaneously, where one leader called another as "dishonest and weak," complaining of being "stabbed in the back." This "war of words" among like-minded industrialized nations led to the failure to issue a joint communique, due to differences on trade, climate and previous agreements.

So why is the SCO succeeding while the G7 struggles?

There is actually a long list of reasons. However, most of it can be boiled down into a few key reasons.

The SCO aims to be inclusive, with reasonable goals being set and discussed. SCO members appear less concerned about finger pointing and more concerned about finding solutions to real issues. The SCO also sets itself apart for its equality. Despite the diversity of scale among the various members in terms of economic and political strengths, each voice among SCO members carries equal weight among the grouping when it comes to their concerns or ideas. SCO members also try to reach a consensus, rather than pushing their own agendas within the grouping.

All of this is evident within the founding principle of the SCO, the Shanghai Spirit, which is stated in the SCO Charter, i.e. "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity and a desire for common development."

Even before the creation of the SCO in 2001, the Shanghai Five (the SCO's predecessor founded in 1996), members worked on solving issues bit by bit, one after another. And now, the enlarged SCO recognizes it as its asset and is talking about building a regional community of shared future.

Would that be applicable for global governance as a vision? The Group of 20 may serve as a testing ground, as it groups both industrialized and emerging economies from all continents,and with all thoughts. 

(Zhao Ying is a CRI English host and reporter)

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.