Greater SCO, a time when thematic relationships shine

Editor’s note: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is holding its first in-person leaders’ summit since the outbreak of COVID-19. With the West in disarray, what kind of new importance and mission would the SCO take on? This episode of Reality Check analyzes SCO’s position in international relations today and its potential role in the future.

Hey guys, welcome to Reality Check. I am Huang Jiyuan.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is currently meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. And, it’s quite a gathering. Leaders from all eight member states are present, including Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is the first in-person summit of SCO leaders since the outbreak of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is President Xi’s first international trip after the pandemic. It is also the first time that Putin has met Xi and Modi in person since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Safe to say people are watching.

Rong Ying, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that “the organization has now become very influential. Its influence is growing day by day, month by month. And also, I think, because it’s really different regional organizations, he’s able to make a difference, he’s able to deliver and he’s been effective, and he’s been able to address and respond to challenges in the region.

To be fair, the organization has never been without influence. The SCO is the largest regional group in Eurasia. The eight-member organization occupies more than three-fifths of the Eurasian landmass, almost half of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s GDP.

In 2021, member states plus Iran saw a 25% increase in trade volume, exceeding $776 billion. And after the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan, the SCO, which was founded with the primary purpose of fighting terrorism, is destined to play a greater role in regional stability.

But the SCO does indeed get an upgrade in stature. Bloomberg describes the summit as an “opportunity to connect with a group of countries seen as the region’s answer to Western-led alliances.” This “response to Western-led alliances” part is incredibly accurate.

The Western-led alliance is not doing very well right now. It’s related to Ukraine. Europe is about to experience a very difficult winter with the worsening of the energy crisis. Its leader, the United States, has caused unrest in the Taiwan Strait as many believe its economy will slide into recession next year. The Western-led alliance is not stable. It is no longer in a position to provide solutions to global problems but causes many of them.

SCO General Secretary Zhang Ming said that “there is a saying here: there is a long queue outside the gates of the SCO. And I think this metaphor is not exaggerated. Why is this happening? I believe that in the profound global changes we are witnessing, members of the international community expect a new type of international relations, based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. , which are the essence of the SCO Charter and the Spirit of Shanghai.”

The world doesn’t need pretty photo ops or catchy speeches. The world faces a huge trust deficit. It is increasingly divided by ideology. The problems we all face – climate change, terrorism, economic downturns – none of them could be solved by discussing “what is democracy”.

The new type of international relations must be a problem-based relationship that generates problem-based solutions. And it’s time to shine.

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