India and China can Write Brilliant Chapters for SCO Cooperation

This year’s SCO leaders’ summit is going to be “a new milestone in the history of the SCO” in the light of the accession of India and Pakistan, two South Asian rivals, to the prestigious SCO consortium last year, the first ever expansion since its inception in 2001 in Shanghai. 

By Rabi Sankar Bosu

The 18th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) under the helm of Chinese leadership will be held in the coastal city of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong province from June 9 to 10.

This year’s SCO leaders’ summit is going to be “a new milestone in the history of the SCO” in the light of the accession of India and Pakistan, two South Asian rivals, to the prestigious SCO consortium last year, the first ever expansion since its inception in 2001 in Shanghai.

The two-day summit will surely also be attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which will carry great significance in promoting the in-depth development of India-China relations under the framework of SCO in the new era.

Thanks to the efforts of its members over the past 17 years, the SCO has made remarkable strides in politics, economics, security, people-to-people exchanges, external exchanges, and other mechanisms in line with the “Shanghai Spirit” which calls for mutual trust and benefit, equality, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.

As the founding member of SCO, China has maintained momentum with other SCO member countries as well as with its observer states and dialogue partners to jointly build a neighboring community of shared future. For example, under the SCO framework, the 21 cooperation zones that China built with other SCO states have played a role in expanding local employment and raising tax revenues. However, after the ruinous 9/11, the threat of terrorism rose to the forefront and became a major concern for SCO members.

Certainly, India’s entry into the SCO family has taken cooperation among member states to new heights. India has enjoyed long-standing relations with Central Asia, which is rich in natural resources, energy and gas. India wants to take advantage of the energy supplies of the Eurasian landmass through transit routes between Russia and China.

India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan aim to complete the 1,840-km natural gas pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gas fields by the beginning of 2020. In this regard, India should cooperate with China which is famous for building gas pipelines in the rigid Alpine area.

In recent years, international student exchange programs have become a bridge for cultural exchange between SCO member states, as evidenced by the establishment and rapid expansion of the SCO University. China has continued to support education cooperation within the SCO. It has become a win-win situation for China and India to further explore and develop wider cultural exchanges and cooperation that could include tourism, education, science, archaeology, music, drama and even yoga.

It’s encouraging to note that in recent years, China has attracted an increasing number of Indian students, making it the fastest growing destination for Indian students for further studies. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, around 18,000 Indian students are currently studying in China as compared to 765 just a decade ago.

Ever since its formation, fighting terrorism, separatism, and extremism is another important goal of the SCO. 17 years have been passed since the anti-terrorism war was launched by the United States as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan. The U.S. has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan and thousands of people were killed and injured in the war. But still there is no sign of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

It is now much clearer that the stability of Afghanistan cannot be achieved only by the military action of the United States and NATO, but there is a need for greater involvement from China and India in the rebuilding efforts of the war-torn Afghanistan.

During their Wuhan meeting, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi proposed a joint project about developing Afghanistan’s infrastructure and the country’s vast mineral resources. It is hoped that during the coming summit SCO members should enhance efforts to bring peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan under the framework of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group.

However, it should be noted here that while all of the other SCO member states are already beneficiaries or supporters of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), India’s absence from the BRI is without doubt a bad diplomatic move on the part of India.

President Xi Jinping has repeatedly said that the BRI may be China’s idea but its opportunities and outcomes will benefit the world. Surely, the BRI can be a vehicle for the two biggest developing countries to contribute to development and prosperity in the region. There is hope that India should abandon its preconceived view of the BRI when Prime Minister Modi meets President Xi in Qingdao. Exchanges and cooperation between India and China will see new progress in the coming years, especially when the construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor starts.



Rabi Sankar Bosu, Secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners’ Club, West Bengal, India

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of China Focus