Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 18th, 2018

China Hosts SCO Summit to Contribute to Regional Security and Trade

The 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit has been attended by world leaders on Saturday in Chinese Qingdao City, Shandong province. The two-day summit, June 9-10, is of great significance for the state members and the region as the SCO has played key role in maintaining regional peace and counterinsurgency since its establishment in 2001.
With the emergence of border disputes and security threat following the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1990s, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan held a series of talks over border disputes and reached agreements, laying the cornerstone of the “Shanghai Five” mechanism which was later changed into the SCO to resolve regional issues through dialogue. Started with the restricted aim of resolving border disputes, SCO has been extended to a highly effective international organization with eight full members, four observers and six dialogue partners.
The SCO was established on 15 June 2001 in Chinese city of Shanghai by the founders of “Shanghai Five” plus Uzbekistan reaching to six members. It has been expanded with inclusion of India and Pakistan as full members in the 17th SCO summit held in Astana last year. The SCO observers are comprised of Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus and the dialogue partners consist of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia.
The SCO makes up 42 percent of the world’s population and covers a quarter of its surface area. The SCO also works with many international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Association of South-East Asian Nation (ASEAN).
Proceeding from the “Shanghai Spirit”, the SCO pursues its internal policy based on the principles of “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity, and a desire for common development” which is stated in the SCO Charter. Its external policy is conducted in accordance with the principles of “non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force” and not seeking “unilateral military superiority in adjacent areas”. Shanghai Spirit is believed to be the lifeblood of the SCO based on which the room for mutual trust, friendship and good-neighborliness will be extended and the states will strengthen their economic, political and diplomatic ties.
Fighting the “three evil forces” namely terrorism, extremism and separatism is the mainstay of the SCO and strongly related to regional peace and stability. In combating terrorism and extremism, the Tashkent-based Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), which has reportedly foiled more than 600 terror plots and captured 2,000 members of international terrorist groups from 2013 to 2017, plays a highly essential role. The RATS is a permanent body of the SCO which is seeking to fight terrorism with strong force.
Afghanistan received observer status at the SCO summit in Beijing, China on 6 June 2012. The ongoing SCO summit will be also of great importance for AfghanistanasAfghan President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani also attended the two-day summit in Qingdao City. It is self-evident that Afghanistan is beset by two challenging issues namely terrorism and drug trafficking. In this summit, combating terrorism and drug trafficking will be an essential topic to be discussed and the world leaders will pledge to join forces to fight these two issues. Hence, partnering Afghanistan in counterinsurgency and anti-drug campaign will be a game-changer for the country. Based on the principle of “good neighborliness”, Kabul government expects all its neighbors in general and Pakistan and China in particular to support the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process so as to persuade the Taliban to resolve the issues through holding peace talks, if they are ever persuaded.
So far, China has played its role with strong commitment to minimize the mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad and cement a trilateral tie among Afghanistan, Pakistan and China so that the three countries could overcome the issue of terrorism, enhance trilateral trade, and contribute to regional security and connectivity. With the commitment of SCO members in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, besides addressing many other regional issues, Afghanistan is hoped to be one of the large beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is also one of the main factors in regional connectivity, mutual trust and trade and transit which will be referred to in the SCO summit. Signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China in 2016, Afghanistan is an active contributor and beneficiary of the BRI and will do its best to support this initiative. Hence, the commitment of the SCO members in supporting the BRI will also benefit Afghanistan. In the meantime, Afghanistan will pledge to continue its contribution to the BRI and its fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. It is hoped that the SCO members give bigger space to Afghanistan in this organization through granting it a full membership, as it did to India and Pakistan last year, in the near future.