Possible outcome of SCO expansion

Possible outcome of SCO expansion

Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held on June 8 in Astana. It's planned that India and Pakistan will become full members of the organization, and, according to the organizers, "eight countries will be united by common ideas of joint progressive development, which is the key point of cooperation within the SCO."

However, Russian experts have different opinions regarding the prospects for the organization. Expert of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Alexei Fenenko, is wary of the idea of expanding the SCO. The only advantage he sees is that American concept of 2005, according to which India was supposed to be used as a counter to Russia and China, will be destroyed. "Americans openly said in 2000s that it's necessary to use India against China by partially recognizing India's nuclear status, in other words, by simply buying out India. Then it evolved into the idea of Afghanistan-Pakistan-India bloc, heritage of the British Empire as a counter to the SCO. Now, with the accession of India and Pakistan, this idea is destroyed," Fenenko said. 

Among minuses he named the Indo-Pakistani conflict: "From now on, any clash between India and Pakistan, any problem in Kashmir will damage the SCO. Opponents overseas will begin to say that we were unable to cope with the problem and that this is the complete collapse of our organization."

Another problem, according to Alexei Fenenko, lies in the fact that India and China still have unsettled border problems: "This includes border in Tibet, the problem of two neighboring countries, Nepal and Bhutan, there are also very serious conflicts. China has border conflict with Bhutan, while India has an agreement to protect it. It's unclear what will happen to the Indo-Chinese border dialogue."

Among economic problems he named the fact that Beijing summit, dedicated to the "One Belt - One Road" initiative, held in May, ended in a failure: "The European Union refused to sign package of documents and even participate in most of the summit. What will happen to "One Belt - One Road" if final consumer is against this construction? India, the shortest way, ignored the event. In other words, the shortest way is blocked. In addition, Americans have an excellent instrument to block the development of transport highways in southern direction - a conflict on the "Durand Line" between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have already seen armed clashes there in the summer of 2015. Now, if Pakistan becomes a member of the SCO, we are responsible for it. If Afghanistan is not a member of the SCO and Pakistan is, then we must support Pakistani line within the "Durand Line". So there's only one route for the Silk Road - through Kazakhstan with access to Russia. This means either a modernization of the Trans-Siberian Railway, or the construction of an additional line of the Trans-Siberian Railway through Kazakhstan with access to either Orenburg or Volgograd. It's good for us, but Americans can take advantage of this."

Leading researcher at the Strategic Studies Center of the Northeast Asia and the SCO of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Andrei Davydov, believes that the SCO is not that effective as an organization. "Two main players - China and Russia - pursue different goals. China doesn't join any organizations, coalitions or alliances for purely altruistic reasons. It acts solely in its own interests, very pragmatically and purposefully. When China joined the SCO, it wanted to gain a foothold in Central Asia."

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