July 11, 2015
On the 9th and 10th of July 2015, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has held a landmark summit in Ufa (Russia), its 15th to date. Ufa has simultaneously hosted the BRICS summit, which was meant to further strengthen economic ties between its five emerging economic powers.
Founded in 2001 by Russia, China and four Central Asian republics, the SCO had until recently as its main objective fighting “the three evils: separatism, extremism and terrorism”. At Ufa, the six founding members have for the first time agreed to allow for the expansion of the organization by offering full membership to both India and Pakistan. Thus the US geopolitical push to see India included into a balance-of-power mechanism in Asia aimed at containing China has been thwarted. Accordingly, the United States will remain with a handful of allies in Asia, from the Philippines and possibly Vietnam to its old-time ally Japan.
The expanded SCO covers a huge geographical area which includes Eurasia, China and the entire Indian subcontinent, with a combined population in excess of 3 billion. Four of its members (Russia, China, India and Pakistan) are nuclear powers and have large, well-equipped military forces. During the summit the leaders of member-countries, new and old, have expressed their willingness to also enhance economic cooperation in strategically important sectors such as transport and energy production/distribution.
The State Department officials have reacted to the new developments in Asia by declaring that the United States do not consider Russia or China as “existential threats” to the Americans.