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SCO Summit as an option of Eurasian Monroe Doctrine

photo: kremlin.ru
7 July 2023

The 23rd Summit of the Council of States Leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) finished its work in New Delhi on July 4. For the first time ever, it was held virtually. The heads of states SCO members (India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) took part in this top-ranking online conference, along with the observers heads of Islamic Republic of Iran, Belarus and Mongolia, and the head of Turkmenistan was separately invited as a guest.

The online format was a significant limitation for the value of the SCO Summit in India as it excluded personal informal communication of the leaders. In fact, its work came down to just protocol issues: Iran became the ninth member of this transnational association, and Belarus launched the procedure for the full-fledged accession to SCO. The New Delhi Declaration of the Council of States Leaders of SCO was signed during the Summit, and a series of documents were adopted. In essence, the SCO Summit became a festival of various declarations about the future development strategy for this organization.

Chinese initiative

The speech of Xi Jinping, the President of China, turned out to be the most meaningful one, where he called to counteract hegemonism and policy of force of the collective West. «We must assert the common values of the entire humankind, consistently protect the polycentric international system and the world order based on international law, counteract hegemonism and policy of force, promote the development of global governance along the fairer international vector», the head of China said. Xi Jinping also mentioned that SCO should counteract «colored revolutions» and external forces interfering into the domestic affairs of the countries of this region. The PRC leader urged the SCO member states to «take their own development and prosperity firmly into their own hands». Xi Jinping also pointed out the need to maintain peace in the region for the sake of collective security. Today, China is a rising global leader offering the SCO countries to «independently develop their foreign policy based on the long-term common interests of our region». [1]

The second important talking point of Xi Jinping pertains to confronting the unilateral economic sanctions. «China together with its partners is ready to implement the global development initiative, to follow the correct vector of economic globalization, to take a stand against protectionism, unilateral sanctions, internationalizing the concept of national security, as well as attempts to build artificial barriers, to break the connections and supply chains», the Chinese leader said. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, strongly supported Xi Jinping asserting that hybrid warfare was launched against Russia. [2] Then, the leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko elaborated on the topic of sanctions: «The West, clinging to the elusive dominance in a number of spheres of economy and finance, is trying to constrain the development of the undesirable countries and is imposing unlawful barbarian sanctions on them». [3]

The third significant topic of Xi Jinpings speech was the importance of the interface between the «Belt & Road» initiative and the development strategies of other countries. China urged to increase the share of national currencies in the trade settlements between the SCO member states. It implies gradual conversion of the current SCO structure into a free trade zone with its own unit of account. «We need to build-up the cooperation in sovereign cryptocurrency, to continue our work to establish the SCO Development Bank», Xi Jinping added. The PRC leader emphasized that Beijing was ready to provide access to its domestic market for its partners and to share its development practices with them. A comparison with CMEA (Council of Mutual Economic Aid) the association of the countries of the Soviet bloc suggests itself here, because CMEA had its own international bank and transferable ruble. It is quite possible that the SCO unit of account will be created based on RMB, which is firmly taking the place of the third global currency after the USD and EUR. In any case, all the economic and infrastructural projects of Shanghai Cooperation Organization may be implemented only subject to the financial and political support of China.

Analysts note that the Chinese media announced Xi Jinpings speech at the SCO Summit as «extremely important». In essence, the talking points of the Chinese leader represent a claim for a sort of «Eurasian Monroe Doctrine». Let us remind here that for many years Monroe Doctrine used to be the key position of the USA foreign policy with respect to the new independent states in South America. It was focused on preventing potential threats for their sovereignty coming from European powers. According to this Doctrine, the United States could participate in the domestic affairs of Latin American states in case they were not able to cope with their domestic problems or in case external forces interfered. Respectively, Beijing and its allies believe that the stability and security inside Eurasia should be assured without any external interference. Hence, China aspires to take the role of the new global leader substituting the USA (which is dying away) and designates the area of its eminent interests.

Presidency of Kazakhstan

Experts note a clear anti-West and anti-sanctions rhetoric in the speech by the Chinese leader. It is underpinned by a quite understandable concern of Beijing, who may become the next subject for the sanctions-based war of the West. The fast-track accession of Iran (its full-fledged SCO membership was finalized at the Summit) and selection of Belarus as the next candidate for the accession shows that China aspires to view the Shanghai Cooperation Organization more like an anti-Western bloc. However, it is too early to speak about SCO turning into a certain anti-NATO analogue, and there are a few solid reasons for that. First of all, the multipolarity principle underlying this organization implies weaker discipline and loose structure from the onset of this to a great extent situational alliance. It makes a noticeable contrast to the rigid trans-Atlantic solidarity of NATO members, who are ready to sacrifice obvious economic benefits for «common values». As was noted earlier by the analysts of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, in the post-war years the West has turned into a united corporation, where the national and supranational sub-centers of the USA and the EU have gotten used to each other and clearly adopted the cooperative rules of the game. [4]

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan, in his speech expressed the alternative view on the SCO development in the most consistent way. He was outspokenly critical of the organization. «We need to admit that in more than 20 years, not a single major economic project was implemented under the auspices of SCO. The obvious factor is the absence of mechanisms of financial support of the project activity», Tokayev openly stated. The President of Kazakhstan also believes that prevention of the geopolitical split between the Western and Eastern countries is one of the key objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to him, SCO should be focused on the economic agenda and coping with such issues as forming the favorable conditions for increasing the sales turnover, removing the existing trade barriers, and launching joint ventures. The development of transportation infrastructure to unlock the transit potential of the North-South and East-West transportation corridors is another strategic priority for SCO. [5]

Such a bright speech of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a quite experienced diplomat, is important for two key reasons. Firstly, it reflects the consolidated position of the Central Asian countries. For example, the leaders of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan also announced at the SCO Summit that they view interaction with the organization exclusively in the economic aspect. [6] Secondly, it was Kazakhstan who is now presiding in SCO after India. Within the short-term agenda currently promoted by the presiding country, Astana intends to propose a new strategy for SCO development ant to highlight some fresh points. Regional experts believe that the transition to mutual settlements in national currency and creation of the SCO currency is not relevant for Kazakhstan, because the payment for its main export commodities (oil, metals, grain) is in USD and this export goes to Western markets. «Talking about the conceptional idea of Kazakhstans presidency, it will be focused on preventing the non-Western bloc from turning into an anti-Western one. An on keeping the Central Asia the core of SCO both in the documents and in practice», emphasizes Nikolay Kuzmin, the pro-government analyst from Kazakhstan. [7]

In its current status, SCO looks like some amorphous «movement of non-alignment with the West», advocating «for all the good things and against all the bad things». The global mission of SCO and its development strategy are not clearly determined yet, and that can obviously be traced in the speeches of the leaders at the Summit in New Delhi (even though these speeches were very different in their tone). As we can see, the Central Asian countries also being the «founding fathers» of SCO do not have any special intent or relevant resources for active long-term confrontation with the West. They view the bloc-based approach as a dangerous anachronism, and perceive SCO as just a regional organization or just as an instrumental tool for economic development. In their opinion, confrontation with the West is an internal issue of Russia and Iran or a «geopolitical toy» of China. At the same time, the Central Asian countries continue to maintain good relationship with the West, the European Union and with the pro-Western countries of the Asian-Pacific Region. The internal conflict between the «front-line» and the «rear-line» SCO countries is evident here (or it may be called the conflict between «warriors» and the «merchants»).

Indian choice

Until recently, the vector of SCO development was determined withing the Moscow-Beijing-Delhi triangle as the consensus of the three main powers of the Eurasian continent. Today, the positions of Russia and China have become closer against the background of their common opposition to the pressure by the USA and their allies. The position of India, on the contrary, is changing towards rapprochement with the West, and an illustrative example is the recent visit of Narendra Modi, the Prime-Minister of India, to Washington. The observers note that the unexpected decision of New Delhi to convert the SCO Summit into the online format was announced immediately after this visit, and also after G20 summit and a series of meetings with Western partners, and this decision was explained by the «conflict in the East». At the same time, New Delhis position on future development strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is extremely important, because simultaneous accession of India and Pakistan turned this regional organization into an influential international organization. In 2017, New Delhi made this decisive move both on the wave of anti-Americanism and in the context of the intent to settle the cross-border conflicts with the help of this new organization; however, today the situation has changed.

Indian media often blame SCO for being forceless and uncapable to help with settling the long-going cross-border conflict, e.g., in Kashmir. However, there are even deeper reasons for concerns. India and China are known to be long standing geopolitical competitors, and from the economic standpoint they both claim for the «global factory» status. These two states both appeared in 1949 against the background of post-war repartition of the world, so after the end of a more than 70-year cycle they simultaneously faced the structural statehood crisis and the need to search for a new historic mission. We can remember the tragic example of the USSR: it also existed for 72 years and could not cope with its transformation. Modern China clearly aspires to take the position of an alternative global center, which the USSR used to be, and all its discourse of the multipolar world in reality tilts to establishing a new bipolar world order (of China and the USA). Therefore, all the efforts of Chinese political elites within SCO should be viewed as the project of recreation of the Second World or a new edition of the «Soviet bloc» under Beijing auspices.

Indian political elites took a different route: they are carefully keeping the distance from modern conflicts and bloc-based confrontation. At the same time, representatives of Indian power elites are successfully claiming high positions in the global establishment within the sui generis «revolution of the managers». The net result is that ethnic Asian Indians became successful leaders of numerous global corporations and even the Prime-Ministers of the leading countries of the First World, i.e., occupied the key positions in the global Center. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime-Minister, at the recent SCO Summit presented a quite reserved speech, just promising the «India always played and will continue to play a constructive role in SCO». [8] International expert note that New Delhi is gradually disengaging from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization believeing it to be a clearly pro-Chinese instrument. In particular, India demonstrated such reserved attitude in the compromise text of New Delhi Declaration, where many important Chinese initiatives like set-up of the SCO Development Bank are not even mentioned. [9]

Interim results

The SCO Summit in New Delhi should be viewed as a «parade» of different declarations about the future of this international organization. To date, the global mission and the development strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have not been clearly determined yet, and that could be obviously monitored in the mixed messages of the participating countries. In its current position SCO looks like some amorphous «movement of non-alignment with the West» without clear rules, goals and program. The most circumspect position with respect to the SCO future was described in the speech of Xi Jinping, the PRC President, who sees this organization as an «anti-Western bloc». The Chinese leader believes that SCO should counteract the «colored revolutions» and interference of external forces into the domestic affairs of the countries in this region. Actually, the speech of the Chinese Leader, as was mentioned above, should be viewed as a claim for a sort of «Eurasian Monroe Doctrine». The influential allies of China in SCO decisively supported this anti-West strategy; they were Russia, Iran and Belarus suffering from direct large-scale sanctions, with military and political pressure of the Western countries.

The Central Asian countries take a different view. They have no intent or resources for confrontation with the West. These countries believe that SCO should be, first of all, a valuable instrument for their infrastructural and economic development. The second important function of SCO, in their opinion, is assuring regional security and counteracting terrorism. This position was described in the most consistent way by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan. Let us note here that Kazakhstan will be presiding in SCO for the forthcoming year, and it intends to propose a new development strategy for the organization. It will focus on economic cooperation and on preventing the non-Western bloc from turning into an anti-Western one. At the same time, the countries of the region understand perfectly well that Moscow and Beijing, who have already done a lot for de-dollarization of their markets, will continue making SCO to move in the anti-Western direction.

According to the analysts, the next year will be determinant for developing the new SCO strategy, as well as for India defining its strategic position, and the global status of the organization will be totally dependent on this. Four scenarios are possible in different situations.

Scenario number one (negative): India exits SCO under the Western pressure or due to cross-border conflicts with China or Pakistan. SCO is quickly turning into a purely pro-Chinese military and political bloc with economic domination of RMB. The negative effects of this process will be growth of confrontation inside Eurasia, new wave of sanctions, growing threats for North-South corridor, a series of conflicts along the Silk Road and potential loss of the global factory status by China (and passing it to India).

Scenario number two (optimistic): SCO finds enough capacity to form sound institutes for development and solidarity. The global mission of SCO is defined as harmonization of the continent within the United States of Eurasia. The main efforts of SCO are focused on infrastructural development, on improving the logistical and manufacturing connections inside the continent.

Scenario number three (inertial): India stays in SCO, but takes the position of «quiet sabotage» with respect to the most radical aspirations of the «warriors». Along these lines. India will get considerable support of the «merchants» from the Central Asian countries. Further expansion of SCO at the expense of the «rear-line» countries like Mongolia and Turkmenistan, as well as attracting trading countries from the Persian Gulf area will significantly strengthen the positions of the «merchants lobby» in the organization.

Scenario number four (pro-active): India initiates re-formatting the Great Silk Road concept. The perception of it changes from geopolitical alliance of states or from someones priority «sphere of influence» to an international transportation framework under substantial common guarantees. In essence, it assumes a new international accord on controlling the exterritorial networks similar to the existing accords on straits. The trunk pipelines, optic cables and transportation networks may be the subject of such international convention.

Overall, the search for new SCO development strategy reflects the global crisis of the existing security and international relations architecture. Success in resolving this problem will be absolute contributing factor determining the new power balance in Eurasia for the forthcoming decades.

1. Xi Jinping called for counteracting the «colored revolutions». RIA Novosti, 04.07.2023.https://ria.ru/20230704/revolyutsii-1882074681.html

2. Putin claimed that the hybrid war was fought against the RF. Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 04.07.2023. https://rg.ru/2023/07/04/putin-zaiavil-chto-protiv-rf-vedetsia-gibridnaia-vojna.html

3. The President of Belarus voiced the proposals on cooperation within SCO. Full text of Lukashenkos speech at the Summit. BELTA, 04.07.2023. https://www.belta.by/president/view/prezident-belarusi-ozvuchil-predlozhenija-po-sotrudnichestvu-v-shos-polnaja-rech-lukashenko-na-sammite-575222-2023/

4. Putin is forming the anti-West alliance Russia Turkey Iran. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 23.06.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/solozobov-yurij/tegeranskij-sammit-putin-formiruet-antizapadnyj-alyans-rossiya-turciya-iran-38218.shtml

5. Full text of the Kazakhstan Presidents speech at the Summit of the Council of States Leaders of SCO. MIA Kazinform, 04.07.2023. https://www.inform.kz/ru/polnyy-tekst-vystupleniya-prezidenta-kazahstana-na-zasedanii-soveta-glav-gosudarstv-chlenov-shos_a4086425

6. Turkmenistan is ready to participate in economic projects of SCO Serdar Berdimuhamedov. Orient news, 04.07.2023. https://orient.tm/ru/post/56407/turkmenistan-gotov-uchastvovat-v-ekonomicheskih-proektah-shos-serdar-berdymuhamedov

7. Why Kazakhstan still needs the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Gazeta Kursiv, 22.06.2023. https://kz.kursiv.media/2023-06-30/print992-nklk-sco/

8. Prime-Minister Modi: India will always be playing a constructive role in SCO. Rossiyskaya , 04.07.2023. https://rg.ru/2023/07/04/premer-ministr-modi-indiia-vsegda-budet-igrat-konstruktivnuiu-rol-v-shos.html

9. New Delhi Declaration of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States Leaders. Official website of the President of Russia, 04.07.2023. http://www.kremlin.ru/supplement/5963

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Reports

SCO Summit as an option of Eurasian Monroe Doctrine

photo: kremlin.ru
7 2023

The 23rd Summit of the Council of States Leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) finished its work in New Delhi on July 4. For the first time ever, it was held virtually. The heads of states SCO members (India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) took part in this top-ranking online conference, along with the observers heads of Islamic Republic of Iran, Belarus and Mongolia, and the head of Turkmenistan was separately invited as a guest.

The online format was a significant limitation for the value of the SCO Summit in India as it excluded personal informal communication of the leaders. In fact, its work came down to just protocol issues: Iran became the ninth member of this transnational association, and Belarus launched the procedure for the full-fledged accession to SCO. The New Delhi Declaration of the Council of States Leaders of SCO was signed during the Summit, and a series of documents were adopted. In essence, the SCO Summit became a festival of various declarations about the future development strategy for this organization.

Chinese initiative

The speech of Xi Jinping, the President of China, turned out to be the most meaningful one, where he called to counteract hegemonism and policy of force of the collective West. «We must assert the common values of the entire humankind, consistently protect the polycentric international system and the world order based on international law, counteract hegemonism and policy of force, promote the development of global governance along the fairer international vector», the head of China said. Xi Jinping also mentioned that SCO should counteract «colored revolutions» and external forces interfering into the domestic affairs of the countries of this region. The PRC leader urged the SCO member states to «take their own development and prosperity firmly into their own hands». Xi Jinping also pointed out the need to maintain peace in the region for the sake of collective security. Today, China is a rising global leader offering the SCO countries to «independently develop their foreign policy based on the long-term common interests of our region». [1]

The second important talking point of Xi Jinping pertains to confronting the unilateral economic sanctions. «China together with its partners is ready to implement the global development initiative, to follow the correct vector of economic globalization, to take a stand against protectionism, unilateral sanctions, internationalizing the concept of national security, as well as attempts to build artificial barriers, to break the connections and supply chains», the Chinese leader said. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, strongly supported Xi Jinping asserting that hybrid warfare was launched against Russia. [2] Then, the leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko elaborated on the topic of sanctions: «The West, clinging to the elusive dominance in a number of spheres of economy and finance, is trying to constrain the development of the undesirable countries and is imposing unlawful barbarian sanctions on them». [3]

The third significant topic of Xi Jinpings speech was the importance of the interface between the «Belt & Road» initiative and the development strategies of other countries. China urged to increase the share of national currencies in the trade settlements between the SCO member states. It implies gradual conversion of the current SCO structure into a free trade zone with its own unit of account. «We need to build-up the cooperation in sovereign cryptocurrency, to continue our work to establish the SCO Development Bank», Xi Jinping added. The PRC leader emphasized that Beijing was ready to provide access to its domestic market for its partners and to share its development practices with them. A comparison with CMEA (Council of Mutual Economic Aid) the association of the countries of the Soviet bloc suggests itself here, because CMEA had its own international bank and transferable ruble. It is quite possible that the SCO unit of account will be created based on RMB, which is firmly taking the place of the third global currency after the USD and EUR. In any case, all the economic and infrastructural projects of Shanghai Cooperation Organization may be implemented only subject to the financial and political support of China.

Analysts note that the Chinese media announced Xi Jinpings speech at the SCO Summit as «extremely important». In essence, the talking points of the Chinese leader represent a claim for a sort of «Eurasian Monroe Doctrine». Let us remind here that for many years Monroe Doctrine used to be the key position of the USA foreign policy with respect to the new independent states in South America. It was focused on preventing potential threats for their sovereignty coming from European powers. According to this Doctrine, the United States could participate in the domestic affairs of Latin American states in case they were not able to cope with their domestic problems or in case external forces interfered. Respectively, Beijing and its allies believe that the stability and security inside Eurasia should be assured without any external interference. Hence, China aspires to take the role of the new global leader substituting the USA (which is dying away) and designates the area of its eminent interests.

Presidency of Kazakhstan

Experts note a clear anti-West and anti-sanctions rhetoric in the speech by the Chinese leader. It is underpinned by a quite understandable concern of Beijing, who may become the next subject for the sanctions-based war of the West. The fast-track accession of Iran (its full-fledged SCO membership was finalized at the Summit) and selection of Belarus as the next candidate for the accession shows that China aspires to view the Shanghai Cooperation Organization more like an anti-Western bloc. However, it is too early to speak about SCO turning into a certain anti-NATO analogue, and there are a few solid reasons for that. First of all, the multipolarity principle underlying this organization implies weaker discipline and loose structure from the onset of this to a great extent situational alliance. It makes a noticeable contrast to the rigid trans-Atlantic solidarity of NATO members, who are ready to sacrifice obvious economic benefits for «common values». As was noted earlier by the analysts of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, in the post-war years the West has turned into a united corporation, where the national and supranational sub-centers of the USA and the EU have gotten used to each other and clearly adopted the cooperative rules of the game. [4]

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan, in his speech expressed the alternative view on the SCO development in the most consistent way. He was outspokenly critical of the organization. «We need to admit that in more than 20 years, not a single major economic project was implemented under the auspices of SCO. The obvious factor is the absence of mechanisms of financial support of the project activity», Tokayev openly stated. The President of Kazakhstan also believes that prevention of the geopolitical split between the Western and Eastern countries is one of the key objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to him, SCO should be focused on the economic agenda and coping with such issues as forming the favorable conditions for increasing the sales turnover, removing the existing trade barriers, and launching joint ventures. The development of transportation infrastructure to unlock the transit potential of the North-South and East-West transportation corridors is another strategic priority for SCO. [5]

Such a bright speech of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a quite experienced diplomat, is important for two key reasons. Firstly, it reflects the consolidated position of the Central Asian countries. For example, the leaders of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan also announced at the SCO Summit that they view interaction with the organization exclusively in the economic aspect. [6] Secondly, it was Kazakhstan who is now presiding in SCO after India. Within the short-term agenda currently promoted by the presiding country, Astana intends to propose a new strategy for SCO development ant to highlight some fresh points. Regional experts believe that the transition to mutual settlements in national currency and creation of the SCO currency is not relevant for Kazakhstan, because the payment for its main export commodities (oil, metals, grain) is in USD and this export goes to Western markets. «Talking about the conceptional idea of Kazakhstans presidency, it will be focused on preventing the non-Western bloc from turning into an anti-Western one. An on keeping the Central Asia the core of SCO both in the documents and in practice», emphasizes Nikolay Kuzmin, the pro-government analyst from Kazakhstan. [7]

In its current status, SCO looks like some amorphous «movement of non-alignment with the West», advocating «for all the good things and against all the bad things». The global mission of SCO and its development strategy are not clearly determined yet, and that can obviously be traced in the speeches of the leaders at the Summit in New Delhi (even though these speeches were very different in their tone). As we can see, the Central Asian countries also being the «founding fathers» of SCO do not have any special intent or relevant resources for active long-term confrontation with the West. They view the bloc-based approach as a dangerous anachronism, and perceive SCO as just a regional organization or just as an instrumental tool for economic development. In their opinion, confrontation with the West is an internal issue of Russia and Iran or a «geopolitical toy» of China. At the same time, the Central Asian countries continue to maintain good relationship with the West, the European Union and with the pro-Western countries of the Asian-Pacific Region. The internal conflict between the «front-line» and the «rear-line» SCO countries is evident here (or it may be called the conflict between «warriors» and the «merchants»).

Indian choice

Until recently, the vector of SCO development was determined withing the Moscow-Beijing-Delhi triangle as the consensus of the three main powers of the Eurasian continent. Today, the positions of Russia and China have become closer against the background of their common opposition to the pressure by the USA and their allies. The position of India, on the contrary, is changing towards rapprochement with the West, and an illustrative example is the recent visit of Narendra Modi, the Prime-Minister of India, to Washington. The observers note that the unexpected decision of New Delhi to convert the SCO Summit into the online format was announced immediately after this visit, and also after G20 summit and a series of meetings with Western partners, and this decision was explained by the «conflict in the East». At the same time, New Delhis position on future development strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is extremely important, because simultaneous accession of India and Pakistan turned this regional organization into an influential international organization. In 2017, New Delhi made this decisive move both on the wave of anti-Americanism and in the context of the intent to settle the cross-border conflicts with the help of this new organization; however, today the situation has changed.

Indian media often blame SCO for being forceless and uncapable to help with settling the long-going cross-border conflict, e.g., in Kashmir. However, there are even deeper reasons for concerns. India and China are known to be long standing geopolitical competitors, and from the economic standpoint they both claim for the «global factory» status. These two states both appeared in 1949 against the background of post-war repartition of the world, so after the end of a more than 70-year cycle they simultaneously faced the structural statehood crisis and the need to search for a new historic mission. We can remember the tragic example of the USSR: it also existed for 72 years and could not cope with its transformation. Modern China clearly aspires to take the position of an alternative global center, which the USSR used to be, and all its discourse of the multipolar world in reality tilts to establishing a new bipolar world order (of China and the USA). Therefore, all the efforts of Chinese political elites within SCO should be viewed as the project of recreation of the Second World or a new edition of the «Soviet bloc» under Beijing auspices.

Indian political elites took a different route: they are carefully keeping the distance from modern conflicts and bloc-based confrontation. At the same time, representatives of Indian power elites are successfully claiming high positions in the global establishment within the sui generis «revolution of the managers». The net result is that ethnic Asian Indians became successful leaders of numerous global corporations and even the Prime-Ministers of the leading countries of the First World, i.e., occupied the key positions in the global Center. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime-Minister, at the recent SCO Summit presented a quite reserved speech, just promising the «India always played and will continue to play a constructive role in SCO». [8] International expert note that New Delhi is gradually disengaging from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization believeing it to be a clearly pro-Chinese instrument. In particular, India demonstrated such reserved attitude in the compromise text of New Delhi Declaration, where many important Chinese initiatives like set-up of the SCO Development Bank are not even mentioned. [9]

Interim results

The SCO Summit in New Delhi should be viewed as a «parade» of different declarations about the future of this international organization. To date, the global mission and the development strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have not been clearly determined yet, and that could be obviously monitored in the mixed messages of the participating countries. In its current position SCO looks like some amorphous «movement of non-alignment with the West» without clear rules, goals and program. The most circumspect position with respect to the SCO future was described in the speech of Xi Jinping, the PRC President, who sees this organization as an «anti-Western bloc». The Chinese leader believes that SCO should counteract the «colored revolutions» and interference of external forces into the domestic affairs of the countries in this region. Actually, the speech of the Chinese Leader, as was mentioned above, should be viewed as a claim for a sort of «Eurasian Monroe Doctrine». The influential allies of China in SCO decisively supported this anti-West strategy; they were Russia, Iran and Belarus suffering from direct large-scale sanctions, with military and political pressure of the Western countries.

The Central Asian countries take a different view. They have no intent or resources for confrontation with the West. These countries believe that SCO should be, first of all, a valuable instrument for their infrastructural and economic development. The second important function of SCO, in their opinion, is assuring regional security and counteracting terrorism. This position was described in the most consistent way by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan. Let us note here that Kazakhstan will be presiding in SCO for the forthcoming year, and it intends to propose a new development strategy for the organization. It will focus on economic cooperation and on preventing the non-Western bloc from turning into an anti-Western one. At the same time, the countries of the region understand perfectly well that Moscow and Beijing, who have already done a lot for de-dollarization of their markets, will continue making SCO to move in the anti-Western direction.

According to the analysts, the next year will be determinant for developing the new SCO strategy, as well as for India defining its strategic position, and the global status of the organization will be totally dependent on this. Four scenarios are possible in different situations.

Scenario number one (negative): India exits SCO under the Western pressure or due to cross-border conflicts with China or Pakistan. SCO is quickly turning into a purely pro-Chinese military and political bloc with economic domination of RMB. The negative effects of this process will be growth of confrontation inside Eurasia, new wave of sanctions, growing threats for North-South corridor, a series of conflicts along the Silk Road and potential loss of the global factory status by China (and passing it to India).

Scenario number two (optimistic): SCO finds enough capacity to form sound institutes for development and solidarity. The global mission of SCO is defined as harmonization of the continent within the United States of Eurasia. The main efforts of SCO are focused on infrastructural development, on improving the logistical and manufacturing connections inside the continent.

Scenario number three (inertial): India stays in SCO, but takes the position of «quiet sabotage» with respect to the most radical aspirations of the «warriors». Along these lines. India will get considerable support of the «merchants» from the Central Asian countries. Further expansion of SCO at the expense of the «rear-line» countries like Mongolia and Turkmenistan, as well as attracting trading countries from the Persian Gulf area will significantly strengthen the positions of the «merchants lobby» in the organization.

Scenario number four (pro-active): India initiates re-formatting the Great Silk Road concept. The perception of it changes from geopolitical alliance of states or from someones priority «sphere of influence» to an international transportation framework under substantial common guarantees. In essence, it assumes a new international accord on controlling the exterritorial networks similar to the existing accords on straits. The trunk pipelines, optic cables and transportation networks may be the subject of such international convention.

Overall, the search for new SCO development strategy reflects the global crisis of the existing security and international relations architecture. Success in resolving this problem will be absolute contributing factor determining the new power balance in Eurasia for the forthcoming decades.

1. Xi Jinping called for counteracting the «colored revolutions». RIA Novosti, 04.07.2023.https://ria.ru/20230704/revolyutsii-1882074681.html

2. Putin claimed that the hybrid war was fought against the RF. Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 04.07.2023. https://rg.ru/2023/07/04/putin-zaiavil-chto-protiv-rf-vedetsia-gibridnaia-vojna.html

3. The President of Belarus voiced the proposals on cooperation within SCO. Full text of Lukashenkos speech at the Summit. BELTA, 04.07.2023. https://www.belta.by/president/view/prezident-belarusi-ozvuchil-predlozhenija-po-sotrudnichestvu-v-shos-polnaja-rech-lukashenko-na-sammite-575222-2023/

4. Putin is forming the anti-West alliance Russia Turkey Iran. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 23.06.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/solozobov-yurij/tegeranskij-sammit-putin-formiruet-antizapadnyj-alyans-rossiya-turciya-iran-38218.shtml

5. Full text of the Kazakhstan Presidents speech at the Summit of the Council of States Leaders of SCO. MIA Kazinform, 04.07.2023. https://www.inform.kz/ru/polnyy-tekst-vystupleniya-prezidenta-kazahstana-na-zasedanii-soveta-glav-gosudarstv-chlenov-shos_a4086425

6. Turkmenistan is ready to participate in economic projects of SCO Serdar Berdimuhamedov. Orient news, 04.07.2023. https://orient.tm/ru/post/56407/turkmenistan-gotov-uchastvovat-v-ekonomicheskih-proektah-shos-serdar-berdymuhamedov

7. Why Kazakhstan still needs the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Gazeta Kursiv, 22.06.2023. https://kz.kursiv.media/2023-06-30/print992-nklk-sco/

8. Prime-Minister Modi: India will always be playing a constructive role in SCO. Rossiyskaya , 04.07.2023. https://rg.ru/2023/07/04/premer-ministr-modi-indiia-vsegda-budet-igrat-konstruktivnuiu-rol-v-shos.html

9. New Delhi Declaration of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States Leaders. Official website of the President of Russia, 04.07.2023. http://www.kremlin.ru/supplement/5963