Жао Лонг. Вместе – в будущее

ШОС: новая сила в новом мире

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Жао Лонг. Вместе – в будущее // ГОСУДАРСТВЕННАЯ СЛУЖБА,
2015, №6 (98)
Жао Лонг, доктор философских наук, доцент, заместитель директора Института исследований глобального управления, научный сотрудник Центра исследований России и Центральной Азии Шанхайского института международных исследований (China, Shanghai, Xuhui, 15 Tianlin Rd 195 Long). E-mail: zhaolong@siis.org.cn

Аннотация: Как крупнейший и один из наиболее успешных механизмов поддержания региональной безопасности и стабильности, Шанхайская организация сотрудничества сыграла незаменимую роль в развитии взаимодействия в области регионального управления, расширении операционных возможностей и установлении взаимовыгодных многосторонних связей. Во второй декаде существования ШОС ключевым направлением ее дальнейшей эволюции и углубления сотрудничества между странами-участницами станет создание тесных взаимосвязей между концепциями национальной безопасности, существующими механизмами и новыми экономическими инициативами.

Ключевые слова: Шанхайская организация сотрудничества, международные организации, региональное управление, национальная безопасность, взаимосвязанность.

Over the past 12 years of its development, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has achieved significant results in deepening cooperation between member states in different areas, improving the organizational structure and mechanisms of collaborative work; it has also played an important role in maintaining safety in the region as well as developing it. All this time the SCO has been broadening both its internal network and international influence, which led to creating a model of a locally-oriented international organization based on common interests, mutual trust and collective development.

According to Chinese experts, safety issues of the Central Asian region have always been considered the cornerstone of the SCO [Guangcheng, 2009, P. 48]. Its predecessor, the Shanghai Five had been founded thanks to the efforts of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in order to strengthen mutual trust and support disarmament in border regions. As the coordination got deeper and the internal requirements rose, the range of functions of this union gradually broadened from strengthening mutual trust in border regions to mutually profitable cooperation among member states in such areas as politics, safety, diplomatic relations, economy, and trade. This went in line with its goal to get onto a new level of cooperation which would let the organization use new emerging opportunities and respond to new threats and challenges.

Nowadays, some researchers maintain that strengthening the organizational structure and increasing its efficiency as well as deepening pragmatic cooperation are the main goals of the SCO [Deguang, 2006, P. 23]. On the whole, the organization has played a crucial role and has done a lot of work in regard to taking effective measures and coordinating joint actions of member states; that allowed the states to build stronger mutual trust in politics and cope with emerging crises. All these results have been possible because the SCO adheres to the following principles of maintaining safety and stability.

The first principle is institutionalized regional management. In theory, regional management is evaluated by the following three criteria: common goals and purposeful formation of values, current and potential mechanisms of cooperation, and the ways how external problems are solved and how interdependent parties act while cooperating [Schulz et al., 2001, Pp. 22-23]. Professor Joseph Nai highlights the significance of searching for overlapping points of political integration (transnational political structures), economic integration (transnational economy), and social integration (transnational community) [Slocum, Langenhove, 2004, Pp. 26-27]. Regional management is based on institutions and their collaboration within the framework of the institutional structure, the characteristics of which are largely defined by regional specific features [Mansfield, Solingen, 2010, Pp. 145-163].  In practice, the effectiveness of such a management model depends on existence of common standards of cooperation and behavior within a certain organizational structure.

When the SCO was established, various mechanisms were formed; as they developed further, they became important and effective platforms for mutual exchange and cooperation.

One of those mechanisms is noteworthy to mention. It is a mechanism of regular meetings between heads of states; inter-industry meetings between heads of governments, chairmen of High Courts, Ministers for Justice, Ministers of Departments of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Economy and Trade, Transport, and Culture; also meetings between leaders of law enforcement institutions and emergency departments. Conferences for experts in such spheres as culture, education, agriculture, and healthcare, along with such advisory bodies as Business Council and Interbank Association of the SCO encourage exchange of opinions and cooperation between member states thus allowing them to coordinate their opinions and take concerted measures. The Secretariat and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, being acting bodies of the SCO, serve as guarantors of stable and gradual development.

The second principle is a conceptual approach to broadening operational opportunities. Identity and ideology are the key factors of forming the structure of regional management. Development of collective identity of SCO member states has evidently played a key role in stimulating operational opportunities of the regional mechanism [Camroux, 2007, Pp. 551-575]. It refers not only to the material level but also to the non-material level, i.e. creating common values, mutually acceptable approaches and elements of reaching a consensus; that is achieved through shared political, economic and cultural goals.

One of the goals of the SCO became strengthening the mechanism of political consultations and reaching a conceptual consensus on key controversial matters on the international and regional levels, including the Russia-Georgia conflict, the “tulip revolution” in Kyrgyzstan, anti-terrorist measures in Afghanistan, and the nuclear program in Iran. As one of the founders of the SCO, China follows the strategy of peaceful development and not belonging to any block; it advocates a safety concept based on mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality, and cooperation. Joint military exercises are held exceptionally within the program of combating terrorism. In 2001, member states signed the Shanghai Convention on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, laying the foundation for concerted efforts to fight “three evil forces”. As a result of joint work in establishing institutions for combating terrorism, in 2002 the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded, with headquarters in Tashkent [Enyuan, 2010, P. 301].

The third principle is multi-faceted cooperation based on the principles of multilateralism and mutuality. The term “multilateral” first appeared in science about international relations in 1858. The term “multilateralism” was introduced into use after the First World War. Some researchers believe that exactly at that time multilateralism became not only a scientific term but also a real ideology. In 1990, Robert Keohane defined multilateralism as “the practice of coordinating national policies in groups of three or more states” [Keohane, 1990, P. 731], so multilateralism can be considered as a process of political cooperation and coordination. However, it does not mean that any coordination between countries can be considered as multilateralism. According to John Ruggie, it is necessary to establish basic principles of cooperation between countries besides the degree of cooperation and the number of participants. In the model he suggested there are three components: indivisibility, generalized principles of conduct, and diffuse reciprocity. Indivisibility is considered as a geographic and functional community within which all participants of multilateral cooperation have an unexceptional right to gain benefits. Generalized principles of conduct entail a decision making process which would depend on some mutual agreements between countries but not on their personal preferences; they also entail consultations between countries in particular cases and on disputed issues. The principle of diffuse reciprocity means that members of cooperation count on mutual benefits in the medium and the long term but not on immediate benefits after reaching a specific agreement. In practice, many years of concerted efforts resulted in working out a legal basis for economic cooperation within the SCO which comprises general principles of conduct and specifies a number of key directions of multilateral cooperation including energy, transport, telecommunications, and agriculture.

Establishing the Business Council and the Interbank Association of the SCO gave the business community an opportunity to take an active part in large-scale joint investment projects in Central Asia, such as the project of oil pipeline between China, Russia and Kazakhstan, the project of building the second railroad China-Kazakhstan, and building roads between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. There are other bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects that are being successfully realized; many of them have been almost completed. Positive results of such cooperation are proved by statistics. In most SCO member states there is rapid economic growth. According to the statistics of the International Monetary Fund, in 2012 the combined GDP of SCO members surpassed 10 trillion dollars[1], which was an increase by 497% compared to the figures of 2003. That is by far higher than the average GDP growth rate in the world. At the same time, the share of SCO members’ GDP in global GDP increased from 5.64% in 2003 to 14.66% in 2012. Thus, the global economic influence of the organization has significantly increased.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization constantly develops practical cooperation with other international organizations maintaining its positive image as an institution striving for peace, cooperation, transparency, and progress. In 2002, a preliminary program for external affairs was adopted at the meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the SCO member states; this program gave an official start to the international activities of the organization. In the past years, as the international influence of the SCO has been steadily growing, Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus received an observer status; Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri-Lanka, in their turn, became dialogue partners. The SCO, including observers and dialogue partners, presently covers a large territory from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean and it is one of the biggest and most attractive regional international organizations in Eurasia.

In the 21st century, the approach to safety issues in peripheral areas has gone through some changes. After the global financial crisis of 2008, there were substantial shifts in the structure of international relations. Western countries, which were under the leadership of the USA, felt a strong need for support from China, Russia, India, Brazil, and other countries with transition economies. From this point of view, when Barak Obama’s administration came to power, the United States already felt pressure from fast-developing China and Asia on the whole, which raised concerns about a shifting balance between China and the USA and a probable replacement in Asian markets. According to the statistics given in an IMF World Economic Outlook update, the total GDP of China in 2001 amounted to 1.3 trillion dollars, and in 2009 it increased to 4.9 trillion dollars, which meant that the gap between GDP of the USA and GDP of China shortened by 65% over ten years. That is why the government of the USA worked out a strategy “Pivot to Asia”[2]. From the economic point of view, it means supporting the idea of creating Trans-Pacific Partnership to oppose China’s economic influence; from the point of view of safety, it means attempts to ignite conflicts between neighbour states in order to undermine regional cooperation among Asian countries. It is noteworthy to mention that the population of a number of Central Asian countries has been under the influence of political chaos, social instability, and lack of positive economic dynamics for more than 10 years. Trans-border conflicts, a water conflict for instance, also impact the degree of cooperation and interdependence between the countries of the SCO. Let us have a look at main dangers and obstacles for further development of the SCO which are linked to external influence, changes of power in a number of countries, and insufficient interdependence of member states.

From the point of view of safety, after the USA withdrew the troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the political situation in regard to safety in Central Asia entered the phase of uncertainty, which may cause imbalance in the security system and trigger a chain reaction in power shifts in internal and external politics. At the same time, non-traditional security issues in the region will manifest themselves more acutely; terrorist activities and drug trafficking will most likely take daunting proportions, which will require the SCO member states to strengthen preventive and control measures. Moreover, the worsening situation in Northern Africa and the Middle East endangers security and stability in Central Asia. With growing political unrest in the background, “colour revolutions”, which already took place in some countries, are becoming a potential threat for governments and a reliable model for opposition. Religious extremism is rapidly intensifying.

Therefore, it is essential to improve coherence of national safety concepts. The common safety concept should be based on the principles of equality and universality. The desire to ensure one country’s absolute security while weakening the positions of other countries is unacceptable. The concept also does not entail creating a military alliance against a third party. The general safety concept must cover all spheres, both traditional and modern ones. Among new spheres are international crimes, cybersecurity, ecological security, energy and resource security, as well as emergency situations of natural character.

It should be noted that besides the SCO it is also the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that is greatly responsible for maintaining security in Central Asia. Some states are members of both organizations, although the main functions and principles of work differ in these organizations. From a certain point of view, the CSTO is a military coalition under the leadership of Russia aimed at rapid response; it also has more opportunities to interfere in cases of emergency. The SCO, in its turn, is a neutral union whose goal is insurance of security, stability, peace, and development in the region. The guidelines of cooperation between these large regional organizations are proclaimed in the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding that was signed by the secretariats of both organizations in October 2007.

Besides external threats, a number of controversial interests and demands of member states can be noted. Geographically, the SCO covers traditional oriental, Christian and Islamic civilizations, so it is impossible to avoid significant differences concerning national principles of organization of political systems, cultural traditions and development levels. Even though the need for a closer cooperation and interdependence is growing and certain steps to meet this need have been taken, the degree of mutual political trust of member states is still not sufficient due to some rather complicated reasons. Some reasons have a historical background; others are connected with personal political and economic interests, whereas other reasons are caused by levels of development of countries. All this leads to certain discord which has a negative influence on long-term aspects of multilateral cooperation. Some experts claim that Russia, as an important player on the world arena, uses the cooperation in security issues within the SCO as a platform to demonstrate its own irreplaceable role in maintaining peace and order in the region. At the same time, some countries in Central Asia hope that the SCO will become a guarantor of the regional and national security, but they also adhere to the foreign policy which does not include participation in large-scale military exercises which could be considered as a provocation by Western countries [Guangcheng, 2009, P. 85].

From the economic point of view, a global economic recession is currently observed; it is accompanied by low motivation to attempt to revive economy. The global economy has not yet recovered from the consequences of the global financial crisis. This situation leads to a lower demand for sources of energy, which adversely affects the countries exporting energy sources, for example Russia and a number of countries in Central Asia. In 2013, the tempo of economic development and foreign trade activities in the SCO countries started to slow down, which impedes creating closer economic ties between states. Moreover, large-scale initiatives of major powers in the field of regional cooperation put up new obstacles for regional economic integration. In July 2011, during the second strategic dialogue between the USA and India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced launching the programme “The New Silk Road”. In the long run, implementation of this plan aims to weaken Russia’s influence in its traditionally important spheres as well as to create an economic and energetic corridor in the countries bordering China, and, respectively, to reduce the geo-economic capacity of China in the region.

Although over the past few decades significant achievements in economic cooperation have been made among member states of the SCO, a series of problems have been found in the course of development. Among those problems was unclear setting of global long-term goals. Nowadays, there is a formal approach towards the principles and mechanisms of cooperation, and most projects are implemented within the framework of bilateral agreements. If the above-mentioned issues are not given proper attention, they will have a negative impact on the future of regional economic cooperation and development.

To sum up, under the influence of the aforementioned internal problems and external threats, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has reached a new stage of its development. Strengthening the correlation between mechanisms and initiatives aimed to support inner integrity and external vitality must become a priority and a key to innovative renewal of the concept, focus, and structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.


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[1] World Economic Outlook Database // http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/weodata/index.aspx

[2] Press Availability at the ASEAN Summit // http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2009a/july/126320.htm

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