More than two decades ago, four post-Soviet States — Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan — agreed with China on confidence-building measures at the border and the withdrawal of troops from border areas. After the negotiations were successfully completed, it was decided to maintain and then expand the convenient five-sided format. In 2001, with the accession of Uzbekistan, the Shanghai cooperation organization was born.
Now the other day (13-14 June) in Bishkek will be held the 19th summit of the SCO with the participation of the heads of 12 States: eight members of the organization, which two years ago joined India and Pakistan, and four observer countries: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia. And the special representative of the President of Russia for SCO Affairs, Ambassador Bakhtiyor Khakimov, told me the other day with good reason that the leaders of not just the countries participating in the interregional Association, but several civilizations, “entire worlds”, gather at one site.
This is no exaggeration. The contribution of ancient civilizations — Chinese, Indian, Central Asian, Persian, Russian — to the history and culture of all mankind is indisputable. In today’s world, the SCO area of responsibility is more than 60% of the territory of Eurasia with a population of more than 3.2 billion people. Together, the organization’s member countries produce a quarter of global GDP.
Huntington was wrong?
The SCO’s ideological Foundation is the so-called Shanghai spirit based on equality and mutual trust of the participating countries, respect for cultural diversity, striving for mutual benefit and joint development. In fact, this is a direct refutation of the well-known theory of the American political scientist Samuel Huntington about the “clash of civilizations” as almost the main source of conflicts in the modern world.
It is no coincidence that Chinese President Xi Jinping on the eve of his recent state visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg pointed out that in the SCO “China and Russia together with other member States, abandoning the rhetoric of clashes of civilizations, thinking of the cold war, the zero-sum game and other stereotypes, have built a constructive partnership based on the principles of non-alignment to the blocs, lack of confrontation and non-targeting against third parties, have formed a standard of a new type of international relations in the spirit of equality, justice, and mutually beneficial cooperation”.
True, it is fair to admit that Huntington tried to imagine the future after the cold war and that in recent years, after his death, broke out with renewed vigor. But his theory is still popular, as the United States and the West continue to dominate the world ideological and information space.
Who we are with the Alliance?
Because of this, overseas is not something to deny, but simply ignore the facts that do not fit into a predetermined agenda. This also applies to the SCO.
One of the basic postulates of American propaganda is that the United States has friends and allies, and other powers simply do not have them. And therefore, they say, and such associations as the SCO or BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), as it were, do not pay attention.
Here’s a fresh example. Commenting on the recent voyage of us President Donald Trump to Europe, former Deputy Secretary of state and now Harvard Professor Nicholas burns writes in the newspaper USA Today: “the United States has undoubtedly become a global power not only because of its military and economic power but also because of its incomparable alliances.”
“They [alliances] multiply strengthen American influence, — explains the retired diplomat, who served, in particular, us Ambassador to NATO. — They also provide a huge difference in power between the US and major competitors. Russia and China do not have such allies on which they can count.”
As they say, blessed is he who believes. Although in fact, the meaning of burns’ comment is not so much boastful as alarming: they say, allies should be protected, and trump “neglects” them, “does not undertake to protect them” and even “allows the possibility of a full exit from NATO.”
“The U.S. is losing Europe”?
Us press has been full of such warnings lately — especially in the context of trump’s confrontational trade and economic policy towards China. Thus, the Washington Post believes that while the owner of the White house quarrels with its partners, Moscow and Beijing “cement Alliance for the XXI century”. Xi Jinping’s phrase that he considers Russian President Vladimir Putin his “closest and most reliable friend among foreign colleagues” has spread throughout the world media.
Along the way, curious details about the relationship between Western “friends and associates” are being clarified. Atlantic magazine, for example, described in detail how Washington persistently, although so far unsuccessfully, trying to twist the hands of its European allies, so that they together with him United front opposed the Chinese project of international cooperation “One belt and one road.”
The publication describes the failure of the April meeting on this issue in us State Department but indicates that the topic can be submitted to the August g-7 summit of the Western powers in France. In addition, Washington and Brussels agreed to hold ” quarterly coordination meetings “on it,” the newspaper writes.
But at the same time, it reminds that at one time America has tried to insist that its allies and partners stay away from the Asian infrastructure investment Bank established in Beijing, and only itself has been embarrassed. And now, according to the magazine, “senior officials in Brussels” believe the trump administration’s approach to China “based on the misconception that a weakening great power is able to turn the tide of history and return to its glorious past.” In General, the comment is entitled “In its battle with China, the US is losing Europe.”
Tigers and monkeys
By the way, at the St. Petersburg international economic forum, Putin was asked, “where is Russia’s place in the battle for the economic championship”. And he answered with a Chinese proverb: “When tigers fight in the valley, a clever monkey sits and watches how it will end.”
Although he immediately pointed to the change of roles: now Russia with China and other friends defend “fair, democratic principles of development of international economic relations”, and the United States, which previously “always promoted to us the ideas of free trade, democracy in the international economic arena, etc.”, now use “various restrictions, tariff wars”, dangerous for the entire world economy.
To be honest, I have a question: if the threat is obvious, then it should at least be contained? That profile Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov two years ago argued that Russia “needs a two-track approach to relations with the United States: first, deterrence where we see the aggressive actions of Americans,” and secondly — “involvement of the United States in the dialogue, but only in those areas that are beneficial and necessary to us.” The other day he confirmed to me that his personal point of view has not changed.
It just seems easier said than done. Knit the clutches of the furious tiger hunters is not enough: a more expensive work.
Friends in word and deed
The SCO, as already mentioned, is not a bloc or confrontational organization. There is no barracks discipline in it, decisions are made by consensus.
And even the concept of “leadership”, which Americans mask their supremacy in their own alliances, “Shanghai spirit” does not correspond. Anyway, I never pulled out of the physics of such a definition, no matter how he tried. The diplomat agreed only to state that “Russia and China were and remain the two countries that mainly develop this organization”. But then he added that in the same role I would like to see all the others, especially India.
SCO members are not “against anyone”, but only in their own interests. But if these interests objectively require, for example, de-dollarization, weakening dependence on the us currency, the countries do not hesitate to talk about it, not really looking at “Uncle Sam.”
By the way, according to my observations, neither trump nor his predecessor in the White House Barack Obama was observed and there is no really close relationship of trust with any of his foreign colleagues. Under Obama, this even served as a reason for gossip in the presidential press pool.
And as for Trump, in words, he has a “fantastic” relationship with everyone he has ever shaken hands with. But in fact, when the Washington Post reporters were preparing a biographical book about him in 2016 and directly asked him who he was friends with, trump first took an uncharacteristic long pause, and then said, “Interesting question. My friendships are mostly related to business… there Are people with whom I do not communicate for years, but I consider them friends.” And called — not for publication — the names of three longtime business partners.
SCO as a whole is popular as an organization. In addition to its regular members and observers, it currently has six official dialogue partners — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. The same countries minus Turkey, but plus Bangladesh and Syria applied for observer status.
Ukraine, Maldives, Egypt, Israel, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia also claim the status of a dialogue partner. From Kyiv the application is received even during the reign of Viktor Yanukovych in 2012; since then, according to physics, it “has not been withdrawn”.
The closest candidates for full membership are Afghanistan and Iran, although, as I understood, no decisions on them are expected in Bishkek. Regarding Iran, the Russian diplomat said that after the lifting of UN Security Council sanctions, this country meets all the formal criteria for membership in the SCO. And bilateral American sanctions in this context have no force.