Richard Melson

July 2006

Shanghai Organization

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Crest of the SCO

Member states ¦¦ Observer states ¦¦ Observer states

Membership 6 member states
4 observer states Headquarters
Tashkent Working languages Chinese, Russian Secretary General Zhang Deguang Formation 14 June 2001

Official website

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization which was founded on June 14, 2001 by leaders of the People's Republic of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Except for Uzbekistan, the other countries had been members of the Shanghai Five; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization.

Official names

The official working languages of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are Chinese and Russian. Here are the official names of the organization in the two languages, abbreviations in parentheses.

Chinese: Chinese in simplified characters:

Russian: Romanization: Shanhajskaja organizacija sotrudnichestva (ShOS)


The Shanghai Five grouping was originally created in 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of states of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. In 1997 the same countries signed the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in a meeting in Moscow.

Subsequent annual summits of the Shanghai Five group occurred in Almaty (Kazakhstan) in 1998, in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) in 1999, and in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) in 2000.

In 2001, the annual summit returned to Shanghai, China. There the five member nations first admitted Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Five mechanism (thus transforming it into the Shanghai Six). Then all six heads of state signed on June 15, 2001, the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, praising the role played thus far by the Shanghai Five mechanism and aiming to transform it to a higher level of cooperation. In July 2001, Russia and the PRC, the organization's two leading nations, signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation.

In June 2002, the heads of the SCO member states met in St. Petersburg, Russia. There they signed the SCO Charter which expounded on the organization's purposes, principles, structures and form of operation, and established it officially from the point of view of international law.


Cooperation on security

The SCO is primarily centered around its member nations' Central Asian security-related concerns, often describing the main threats it confronts as being terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Starting in 2003, there was a joint counter-terrorism center built in Shanghai, China. In the June 16 - June 17, 2004 SCO summit, held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the SCO agreed to form the Regional Antiterrorism Structure (RATS). On 21 April 2006, the SCO also decided to establish a new institute to fight cross-border drug crimes. [1]

Grigory Logninov claimed in April 2006 that the SCO has no plans to become a military bloc; nonetheless he argued that the increased threats of "terrorism, extremism and separatism" make necessary a full-scale involvement of armed forces. [2]

There have been a number of SCO joint military exercises: The first of these was held in 2003, with the first phase taking place in Kazakhstan and the second in China. [3]

On a larger scale, but outside the SCO framework, the first ever joint military exercise between the China and Russia, called Peace Mission 2005 started on August 19, 2005. Following the successful completion of the Sino-Russian military exercises, Russian officials have begun speaking of the SCO taking on a military role and of India also joining these exercises in the future.

The next joint military exercises are planned for 2007 in Russia, near the Ural Mountains and close to Central Asia, as was agreed upon on April 2006 at a meeting of SCO Defense Ministers. Air forces and precision-guided weapons are likely to be used. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that the exercises will be transparent and open to media and the public. [3] [4]

The next meeting of Defense Ministers is planned for 2007 in Kyrgyzstan.

Economic cooperation

A Framework Agreement to enhance economic cooperation was signed by the SCO member states on 23 September 2003. At the same meeting the Premier of the PRC, Wen Jiabao proposed a long-term objective to establish a free trade area in the SCO, while other more immediate measures would be taken to improve the flow of goods in the region. A follow up plan with 100 specific actions was signed one year later, on September 23, 2004. [5] [6]

On 26 October 2005 the Moscow Summit of the SCO, the Secretary General of the Organization said that the SCO will prioritize joint energy projects; such will include the oil and gas sector, the exploration of new hydrocarbon reserves, and joint use of water resources. The creation of an Inter-bank SCO Council was also agreed upon at that summit in order to fund future joint projects. The first meeting of the SCO Interbank Association was held in Beijing on 21-22 February 2006. [7] [8]

Cultural Cooperation

Cultural cooperation also occurs in the SCO framework. Culture ministers of the SCO met for the first time in Beijing on 12 April 2002, signing at the same time a joint statement for continued cooperation. The third meeting of the Culture Ministers took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 27-28 April 2006. [9] [10]

An SCO Arts Festival and Exhibition was held for the first time during the Astana Summit of 2005. A second Arts Festival and Exhibition is expected to take place in Shanghai in June 2006. Kazakhstan has also suggested an SCO folk dance festival to take place in Astana, in 2008. [11]

Future membership possibilities

Among other nations of the wider region, Mongolia became the first country to receive observer status at the 2004 Tashkent Summit. Pakistan, India and Iran received observer status at the 2005 SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan on July 5, 2005. All four nations have applied for full membership to the organization.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui once said that the SCO will not take in new members before its six members make serious studies. Russia's permanent representative in the SCO Secretariat Grigory Logninov has also claimed that the enlargement of the SCO is impeded by "an immature mechanism of admission of new members", while Secretary General Zhang Deguang argued that an overexpansion might hinder the intensification of the cooperation. [12]

In a series of meetings in February 2006 with Chinese officials and media, the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf argued in favour of Pakistan's qualification to join the organization as a full member. China said that it would convey Pakistan’s desire to all SCO member states. In turn Musharraf was formally invited to the sixth summit of the SCO to take place in Shanghai, in June 2006. [13] [14]

The SCO has also encouraged India to join the organization, saying that they would properly consider a membership application should it decide to join the group. [15] Indeed, Russia has been said to support Pakistan's membership only if India joins at the same time [16] -- given the disputes between the two nations this scenario parallels the simultaneous entry into NATO of Greece and Turkey. So far India has not made an official membership application, but has unofficially made its interest in joining known.

Belarus has also applied for observer status in the organization and has been promised Kazakhstan's support towards that goal. However Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov voiced doubt on the probability of Belarus' membership saying that Belarus was a purely European country. [16] [17]

In Serbia, the Serbian Radical Party has called for Serbia to try to join. The Serbian Radical Party is doing this because they tend to view the European Union as being a negative force on Serbia and because they want to seek better relations with Russia. The Serbian Radical Party has also proposed that Serbia joins the Union of Russia and Belarus to improve relations with Russia.

Relations with the West

Though the declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization contained a statement that it "is not an alliance directed against other states and regions and it adheres to the principle of openness", most observers believe that one of the original purposes of the SCO was to serve as a counterbalance to the United States and in particular to avoid conflicts that would allow the United States to intervene in areas near both Russia and China. Many observers also believe that the organization was formed as a direct response to the threat of missile defense systems by the United States, after the United States reversed course in its nuclear policy and began promoting National Missile Defense.

China and Russia's conflicting interests have limited the group's ability to act in a coordinated manner. Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the SCO was unable to develop a coordinated policy against terrorism and was also unable to deal as a collective body with the United States. The United States was able to significantly increase its influence by offering aid and convincing many of its Central Asian members to allow the United States to use their territory as military bases.

In July 2005, after the war in Afghanistan and Iraq saw an indefinite troop presence of U.S. forces in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the SCO meeting at its summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, urged them to set a timetable for withdrawing their troops from member states. Since then, Uzbekistan has asked the U.S. to leave the K-2 air base. [18] The Astana summit also saw the induction of India, Pakistan and Iran as observers.

In 2006, Iran is expected to be inducted as a full member of the SCO and will likely be included in joint military and economic activities, thus nearly eradicating its 20-year isolation. Belarus, which has applied for observer status in the organization, is another nation which has faced international isolation by the West due to undemocratic practices.

On April 15 2006, China’s Xinhua news agency announced that Iran had been invited to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. [19] [20]

The Republic of China is not a member; Taiwan is included on the map in the official logo because of disputes between the People’s Republic of China and the ROC on its territory.

External links




















  19. Confront China’s Support for Iran’s Nuclear Weapons

(Accessed June 16, 2006)

  1. Times (UK) online - "Iran in talks to join alliance against West"

(Accessed June 16, 2006)

Shanghai Cooperation Organization: China-Islamic Axis?

July 23, 2006