News / Asia

Analysts: Shanghai Cooperation Organization Flourishing, Thanks to Help from China

Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization seen during a meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (File Photo - June 11, 2010)
Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization seen during a meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (File Photo - June 11, 2010)

The Asian regional alliance known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was originally set up to deal with border disputes among China, Russia and several Central Asia countries.  After 10 years and billions of dollars in Chinese loans, outside analysts say the group is flourishing and attracting new members.

As the Shanghai Cooperation Organization celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the group is considering expanding its membership for the first time beyond original members China, Russia and the four central Asia countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

This week the top leaders from those countries will be joined by the presidents of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as India’s foreign secretary, for a summit in the Kazakh capital Astana.

New momentum

Richard Weitz, with the Washington-based public policy organization the Hudson Institute, says the SCO grouping has a new momentum that even its members did not expect. 

“They have all been surprised by how rapidly and well it has developed in its first years. They did not anticipate that,” Weitz said.

The SCO countries all have their own interests, especially the two biggest members: China and Russia. Weitz says Moscow and Beijing share common interests in fighting extremism and instability.

He says energy is one area that many observers thought would lead to conflict, but instead has so far led to cooperation.  He says he thinks this is because China, with its huge energy needs, so far has been intentionally deferential to Russia, which has energy resources to sell.

Multilateral format

Weitz says smaller member countries are also benefiting from the SCO’s multilateral format.

“For the other countries, it is a good way to find deals with both Moscow and Beijing," he said. "Trying to deal with either country one on one, they are inherently at a disadvantage because they are a lot weaker.  But having them all pulled together, it allows a little more balance and is the same as has been quoted by some unnamed Central Asian official, when she said that having the Chinese in the room means the Russians can’t resort to their usual tricks.”

SCO membership also gives countries access to preferential loans from China’s Import-Export Bank. China has been a prolific lender in recent years, and by some estimates doles out more money in loans to the developing world than the World Bank.

In 2009 alone, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced $10 billion worth of loans to other SCO members.

Chinese lending officials say they have implemented more than 50 projects in SCO member states that are aimed at promoting economic and social development. The bank says loans support programs relating to communications, transportation, energy and agriculture.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Cheng Guoping said nearly three quarters of that money already has been provided to recipient countries, and he indicated more could be on the way.

Financial support

Cheng says other SCO members expect stronger economic and financial support from China, so President Hu will be discussing what else can be done within the SCO framework to promote what he described as practical economic cooperation.

The SCO now has four observers: India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. All but Mongolia are applying for full membership.

Turkey also has applied to join Belarus and Sri Lanka as an SCO dialogue partner.

Outside observers say they do not expect the group to take on more full members this time, but Cheng says enlargement is an inevitable process.

Cheng says leaders at the Astana summit will sign a document on legal conditions for new membership.  He says the SCO charter states that new members are admitted based on a consensus of existing members.

Criticism

While member states praise the benefits of joining, human rights groups are less enthusiastic.

Rights groups say SCO members adopt China’s approach to terrorism, which also lumps separatism and extremism into the definition.

Sharon Hom, who heads the New York-based group, Human Rights in China, says the SCO is “absolutely on the same page as China” in terms of adopting Beijing’s approach to counter-terrorism.

“The actual practices of the SCO have engendered practices that violate the rights of individuals, through practices like blacklists, and the collection of intelligence through extradition and forcible return and denial of asylum, and also through joint military and law enforcement exercises, in which China is very, very prominent," said Hom.  "And they often include exercises conducted in ethnic regions.  And the simulated events often involve how to control civil unrest.”

In May, Chinese forces joined troops from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in counterterrorism drills in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang.  The restive region is home to China’s Muslim minority Uighurs, a Turkic people whom the Chinese government is accused of suppressing.

Ahead of Wednesday’s summit in Kazakhstan, China confirmed that host nation Kazakhstan has turned over a Uighur refugee who fled to the country in 2009 following ethnic riots in China’s Xinjiang region.  

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed the extradition. He says the Uighur man was wanted by Chinese security authorities.  He said the case is now being handled by Chinese judicial authorities.

Human Rights in China says Ershidin Israil was initially granted refugee status by the United Nations in March last year, but he was later arrested by Kazakh authorities and denied political asylum.  The group says his treatment raises serious questions about the impact the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has on respect for human rights.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs