Source: Global Times Published: 2017-6-12
The entry of India and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is likely to bring a series of changes to the organization and even to the fragile geopolitical landscape of Asia. Will the SCO offer a platform to allow member countries, China and Russia included, to mediate in disputes between India and Pakistan? How will the SCO’s expansion affect India’s attitude toward China’s Belt and Road (B&R) initiative? To find answers to these questions, Global Times reporter Hu Weijia talked to experts in exclusive interviews during the ongoing SCO summit taking place in Astana.
The SCO will not be used by China to intervene in Indo-Pakistan disputes: Chen Xiaochen
China and Russia both hope that India and Pakistan can find an effective mechanism to solve their problems. If India and Pakistan can focus more on peace and economic development, all countries in the organization, including China and Russia, will benefit from it. The SCO has the potential to mediate between India and Pakistan, but only the word "potential" can be used in the short term.
There is a deep divide between India and Pakistan, so it will be difficult for the SCO to bridge this with its regular mechanism in the short term, and the SCO will by no means become a channel for China to intervene in any conflict between India and Pakistan. However, participating in the SCO will benefit these two countries in terms of establishing a platform for mutual communication and negotiation.
India can communicate directly with China and Pakistan through the SCO to better understand and ease India`s resistance to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This can play a positive role, but we do not expect that India will utterly change its attitude to the CPEC because of joining the SCO.
India should accept the fact that China is strengthening its cooperation with other South Asian countries, and it should also understand that India would benefit from a more positive attitude. The South Asian country has made great progress in its economic development and improvement of its people’s livelihoods, which should be recognized. But the country still has a long way to go. Its economy has a lot of potential to develop, which can be motivated by joining in with regional economic integration and cooperating with international organizations, including those in which China participates as well.
Chen Xiaochen is director of the International Studies Department at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.
India and Pakistan’s membership sends mixed messages to SCO: Qian Feng
The SCO is now facing both an opportunity and a challenge in accepting India and Pakistan as new members. If the two countries – which have had long-term disputes over issues such as anti-terrorism efforts and Kashmir – bring their disagreements to the SCO, the club’s internal cohesion is likely to be challenged. In the worst-case scenario, the other SCO members might have to spend more time and energy on mediating between the two countries, and therefore devoting less energy to reaching a consensus on cooperation among all parties.
However, on the positive side, the SCO is set to become an international organization with its members accounting for the majority of the world’s territory and population, and this offers a huge amount of potential for development. In this regard, the entry of India and Pakistan is likely to help the organization expand its influence in international and regional affairs in various fields, especially in security, geopolitics and the economy.
As for internal governance, the SCO could offer a platform for enhancing cooperation between its old and new members. Russia has showed a positive attitude toward joining the CPEC, and SCO membership will offer opportunities for Pakistan to launch direct talks with Russia and other countries if it wants to. The organization will perhaps provide a fresh platform for China, India and Pakistan to talk about the CPEC and help reduce India’s misunderstanding of the project. The SCO`s expansion is likely to be good news for the development of the CPEC.
Qian Feng is a researcher with the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.