Expanded SCO Can Boost Regional Security, Economy
World Economy

Expanded SCO Can Boost Regional Security, Economy

Countries need not to be alarmed by an expanding Shanghai Cooperation Organization, for a bigger SCO will play a bigger role in helping preserve global stability and prosperity.
Leaders of SCO member states—China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—gathered this week in Ufa, Russia, to chart the course of future cooperation amid growing economic and security challenges in the region.
A SCO Development Strategy until 2025 was approved, setting targets and tasks for the next decade.
However, the highlight of the summit came Friday as leaders ratified a resolution on initiating the inclusion of India and Pakistan as full members of the bloc.
Belarus was also elevated to the status of observer from dialogue partner, and Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal were accepted as dialogue partners.
Until the summit, India and Pakistan along with Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia had held observer status. Pakistan sought full membership in 2007 and India in 2014.
The eagerness of countries to join the SCO reflects the fact that the “Shanghai Spirit” of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development is widely recognized by the international community.

  Greater Influence
For any international organization, accepting new members is a huge step, as it will certainly increase the organization’s influence and appeal on the international stage.
Even more so for the inclusion of India and Pakistan, as the two countries have had their fair share of suspicion toward each other.
Their accession to the SCO would help push for the improvement of bilateral relations, by ironing out differences under the SCO framework.
Besides mending fences between traditional rivals, the SCO expansion also bodes well for countering terrorism and extremism in the region, a key task for the SCO since its establishment.
Over the past decade, the SCO has made concerted efforts to effectively block mounting security threats in the region through the creation of transnational anti-terror agencies and the staging of multinational joint drills.
An expanded SCO could, thus, provide a broader platform for security cooperation in Eurasia. But there is more to the SCO’s growing membership than security.
With the accession of India and Pakistan—the former being the world’s ninth largest economy, while the latter sits on the crossroads of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the China-proposed trade and infrastructure network—the SCO could play a more substantial economic role.
With China’s vision for increased connectivity through continental and maritime Asia, the expansion of the SCO will be a welcome development.
Already, President Xi Jinping is proposing that the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative be effectively connected with India’s development plans.
The world should rest assured that the SCO’s growing membership only serves to play a more positive, stabilizing role in the Eurasian region.
SCO members at the summit in Ufa, Russia, July 10.


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