The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 with 6 member states- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
It is the world’s largest regional organization, covering approximately 60% land area in Asia-Europe, over 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP.
The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.
The intergovernmental organisation’s purposes, principles, structures and forms of operation were listed in the SCO charter signed in Russia’s Saint Petersburg in 2002.
Its priority areas are regional security issues, fight against terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism and regional development.
India and Pakistan were admitted into SCO as full members in June 2017, an elevation from their previous ‘observer’ status, taking the list to 8.
However certain unstated geopolitical equations are hard to miss, when one looks at the list of members. No Western country, or any that is seen as firmly allied with the Western bloc, is an SCO member.
India and SCO
India is perhaps an outlier of sorts in the SCO, given its complex bilateral ties with Beijing, and considering that China enjoys considerable heft with all the other member countries.
Russia, the central Asian countries and Pakistan have all joined the Belt and Road Initiative- China’s controversial global infrastructure programme spanning over 100 countries.
Also, India is part of international groupings that Beijing sees as adversarial to its global interests.
Beijing is particularly irked by the Quad- comprising India, US, Japan and Australia- that it thinks is a aimed at containing its growing global influence.
Quad members have maintained, the grouping is to enhance security and economic cooperation among members and to ensure a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific.’