Li Yongquan: SCO is not limitless, and we need to define these boundaries

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Li Yongquan: SCO is not limitless, and we need to define these boundaries 04.05.2016 19:07

The International Forum “The second track. The role of civil society and public diplomacy in the further development and expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization” was held in Sochi on April 19-20. The organizer of the event was the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation in conjunction with the Institute of CIS Countries

Director of the Institute of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Li Yongquan told about his vision of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

- Mr. Lee, please, say a few words what does integration in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization mean for China and also the inclusion of new members in the expansion of the SCO?

The term “integration” did not sound in the framework of the SCO. Integration is a process going on in the former Soviet Union in the framework of the Customs Union, the Eurasian Economic Community. In addition to China the other members of this organization specifically avoided this term, because the integration process particularly concerns not only economic, but also geopolitical issue, as a process with equal advantage of the Russian Federation and other states. And since last year, the economic community is growing, especially multilateral, at the summit, a meeting in China went very well. Of course it is primarily economic structure. But I think that the main process is not integration, it is within the EAC, but not in the SCO. The SCO is Cooperation Organization.

- Is the expansion necessary for the SCO?

- The 19th anniversary of the Shanghai organization community is celebrated this year. For 15 years, the organization has done a lot. The most difficult point was the signing of the border issues. So, with the help of the SCO, the Shanghai Five, we have successfully solved it. China has got 7600 km of common border with Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. This is a unique event not only in the current but in world politics. Therefore, the SCO has a lot of attraction. The attraction is not only in the economic sphere, but also the political one. The SCO has made a great contribution to the consolidation of the region. Many claim to membership in this organization. Since last year, at a summit in Ufa, India and Pakistan are waiting for their turn. And the process of admission these countries in the organization has already started.

- What other countries are looking closely at the SCO?

- There are a lot of willing, but for me, to say, from the beginning of the SCO is a regional organization that is limited by statute, the statute does not say, but all the members know that it is a regional organization, limited to Russia, China and Central Asia. But Central Asia is now clearly expanding and has already moved that border. But as for me, the expansion is still limited. We must determine what kind of this regional organization is and where its borders are fixed. If we prepare these concepts, there will be no problems. But if one just applied, then adopted, I’m sure that there will be difficulties. At the moment within the SCO the principle of consensus is operating harmoniously and coherently. And we know that between India and Pakistan, there are border problems. For example, between China and India, they also exist. These issues have to be agreed before the entry. We do not pretend for a speedy solution to these problems, but we need to agree on the position that these problems would not create difficulties of functioning of the organization.

- How is the SCO membership discussed and membership in other international organizations? And whether these organizations compete with each other?

- There is competition, but it is not serious. Because when we carefully read the charter, the Charter of the SCO, it is a regional organization, its functions, authorities are quite limited. It has perfectly fulfilled its mission according to these principles, which are assigned to it by the charter and the statute. This is not the integration process, such as EAC, the SCO is not such organization. Although from the beginning we talked about integration, but it is not the main content of this organization. It is difficult to compare one and the other.