While the first meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia since Moscow launched a war on neighboring Ukraine has taken the spotlight of the ongoing Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Beijing has outlined a much more ambitious agenda for the high-level gathering.
Xi’s tour into the heart of Asia, first to Kazakhstan and then Uzbekistan, where the summit is being held, marks his first trip abroad in nearly 1,000 days. And, at a time of international unrest stemming from crises over Taiwan and Ukraine, both backed by the U.S. in challenges to China and Russia, respectively, Beijing is looking to sow the seeds of a new security order in Asia.
“With its economic and proxy war against Russia and increasingly provocative actions against China, countries around the world can no longer avoid acknowledging the U.S. as one of the greatest threats to global peace and prosperity,” Andy Mok, a senior fellow at the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, told Newsweek.
“Not surprisingly,” he added, “this has created a much greater need for systemic ways to counter this threat with the SCO and its multidimensional political, economic and security focus and consensus-based approach.”
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Mok also noted the growing nature of the SCO itself, a bloc established in June 2001 as Moscow and Beijing signed their post-Cold War Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. It now comprises eight full-time member nations: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Observer state Iran has signed an accession to join as well, and others, including Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have sought greater engagement.
“The SCO is gaining greater momentum and influence,” Mok said. “However, perhaps more important than the growing organizational capability of the SCO is the conceptual framework supporting it, namely, China’s Global Security Initiative (GSI).”