Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO Summit 2022 was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in which heads of all member states participated. SCO countries constitute almost 40% of the world population and 30% of the world GDP. It was initiated in 1996 under the name of the Shanghai Five comprising five states China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan to enhance regional cooperation. Now it has eight members including four nuclear states and many other observer states like Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia and some attended as dialogue partners like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. The president of Turkmenistan was also invited as a guest.
Since its inception, SCO has kept on expanding and has been progressively institutionalized including annual summits among heads of member states, and prime ministerial and ministerial level meetings underlining trade, cooperation, and defense, foreign affairs, finance, and security issues. In SCO Summit 2022, the member states decided to work collaboratively to eradicate Separatism, Extremism, and Terrorism by establishing The Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) which may tackle the regional issues based on these concerns.
Through this summit, China and Russia may be aiming to change the existing international order by combining all major and minor powers of the Asian region. Do the interests of China, Russia, and other member states allow them to work on a single forum? Most of the states in the Asian region may be on a single page to exteriorize themselves from the western-dominance. The interests of the Asian states meet somewhere like the dominance of the dollar and sanctions by the West that are deteriorating the economy of most of the member states, causing disturbances for them to survive with sovereignty.
The desire of China and Russia to transform the world from unipolarity to multipolarity has the potential to evacuate the Eurasian region from western influence by utilizing coordination, communication, geo-economics, and confidence-building measures.
Russia is indulging in a war with Ukraine leading to US imposing sanctions on Russia, isolating it from the international community and its results may be worst for the Russian economy. Russia was already concerned about the expansion of NATO that is challenging the Russian territorial integrity. Geopolitical tensions are rising in Taiwan between US and China. The US and China are in a confrontational mode in Taiwan. Recently House Representatives are visiting Taiwan for almost the first time since the 1990s. Joe Biden said the US will support Taiwan if China invades it. At this time, SCO Summit was of high importance to discuss all these issues on a wider table to counter western supremacy in the region.
SCO mainly emphasizes on borderless connectivity of the member states with each other and also gaining access to the international market. There are many hurdles in border trade between member states because Asia is going through the phase of conflicts like the Pakistan-India issue in Kashmir, the Armenia-Azerbaijan clash in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan confrontations on the border. These states can resolve these security issues on a bilateral level or China and Russia may play the role of arbitrators between the confronted states to smoothen the way for peace.
Free Trade Zone can be established in Asia and it can become the biggest international market. The cost of trade reduces and it would be more beneficial for the welfare of the people of Asia and waves of peace dominate the region. This region has oil and gas in abundance which is very vital for the industry and ultimate for the economy. A combined approach of all SCO members is to cooperate in digitalization, technological advancement, and industrialization to transform the region from environmental security crisis into green innovation.
An agreement is signed to construct a road between China, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to connect them for low-cost and beneficial trade. SCO alliance may support the Taliban government in Afghanistan for the procurement of security in the region. SCO may rebuild the infrastructure in Afghanistan for bringing peace and regain the stability of the region. The Belt and Road Initiative of China is investing in global infrastructure development in almost 150 countries like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Issues of climate change, human security and population migration are highly spotlighted in this SCO Summit. The recent floods in Pakistan are one of the most devastating natural disasters in Pakistani history, the infrastructure of billions of dollars was either damaged or totally abolished which is alarming and challenging for an economy that is already suffering. A forum under SCO is organized which may work as a department and all members will provide funds and play role in combating climate change.
During the talks, Russia gave a proposal for a Sports Organization under the SCO that will drive competition in sports among the member states. This initiative will contribute to gaining more international recognition and acceptance of the SCO and it will pave the way for SCO so that more states may join it.