Connectivity projects must respect sovereignty issues, External Affairs Minister said in a reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), at a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
GS II- International relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is the SCO?
- Organizational structure of SCO
- How is this relevant to India?
- What is Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)?
What is the SCO?
- Founded in June 2001, it was built on the ‘Shanghai Five’, the grouping which consisted of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
- They came together in the post-Soviet era in 1996, in order to work on regional security, reduction of border troops and terrorism.
- They endowed particular focus on ‘conflict resolution’, given its early success between China and Russia, and then within the Central Asian Republics.
- Some of their prominent outcomes in this arena entail an ‘Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field Along the Border Areas’ (in 1996) between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which led to an agreement on the mutual reduction of military forces on their common borders in 1997.
- It would also pitch in to help the Central Asian countries resolve some of their boundary disputes.
- In 2001, the ‘Shanghai Five’ inducted Uzbekistan into its fold and named it the SCO, outlining its principles in a charter that promoted what was called the “Shanghai spirit” of cooperation.
- The precise assertion, combined with some of the member states’ profiles, of building a “new international political and economic order” has often led to it being placed as a counter to treaties and groupings of the West, particularly North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
- India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
- The SCO also has four observer states — Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia — of which Iran and Belarus are now moving towards full membership.
- Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
- Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology, and culture.
- Education, energy, transport, tourism and environmental protection.
- It also calls for joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
Organizational structure of SCO
The SCO secretariat has two permanent bodies —
- SCO Secretariat based in Beijing
- Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
Other than this, the grouping consists of
Heads of State Council (HSC):
- It is the supreme decision-making body of the organisation.
- It meets annually to adopt decisions and guidelines on all important matters relevant to the organisation.
Heads of Government Council (HGC):
- The HGC (mainly including Prime Ministers) also meets annually to zero in on the organisation’s priority areas and multilateral cooperation strategy.
- It also endeavours to resolve present economic and cooperation issues alongside approving the organisation’s annual budget.
Foreign Ministers Council:
- The Foreign Ministers Council considers issues pertaining to the day-to-day activities of the organisation, charting HSC meetings and consultations on international problems within the organisation and if required, makes statements on behalf of the SCO.
How is this relevant to India?
- India acquired the observer status in the grouping in 2005 and was admitted as a full member in 2017.
- Through the years, the SCO hosts have encouraged members to use the platform to discuss differences with other members on the sidelines.
- India is also a part of the ‘Quadrilateral’ grouping with the U.S., Japan and Australia.
- Its association with the grouping of a rather different nature is part of its foreign policy that emphasises on principles of “strategic autonomy and multi-alignment”.
What is Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)?
- One Belt One Road (OBOR), also called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is an ambitious economic development and commercial project that focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe spanning about 78 countries.
- Initially announced in the year 2013 with the purpose of restoring the ancient Silk Route that connected Asia and Europe.
- The project involves building a big network of roadways, railways, maritime ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and associated infrastructure projects.
- The project covers two parts. The first is called the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” which is primarily land-based and is expected to connect China with Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe.
- The second is called the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” which is sea-based and is expected to will China’s southern coast to the Mediterranean, Africa, South-East Asia, and Central Asia.
- Landlocked Nepal has recently joined OBOR by signing a deal that will help it improve cross-border connectivity with China, and Pakistan is set to benefit from the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will connect southwestern China to and through Pakistan, allowing access to Arabian Sea routes.
-Source: The Hindu