Shanghai Cooperation Organization
What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 1996, consists of six of China’s neighboring countries including Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The SCO was originally founded to focus on the security of the region. However, the member countries of the SCO have agreed to focus on economic cooperation as well, which proves to be beneficial for Xinjiang.
How did it start and why?
The presidents of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, better known as the “Shanghai Five,” met during April 1996. This was the start of annual meetings to originally counter the problem of terrorism, Islamic extremism, and separatism.
What are some of the issues and actions of the SCO?
China and Kyrgyzstan began joint military exercises along the Chinese-Kyrgyz border in 2002. In 2003, all SCO members agreed on contributing to a joint anti-terrorist exercise. In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov signed an agreement to solve this issue, and it included taking measures against Uyghur separatists ad terrorists in Xinjiang. Currently, the SCO also meets to discuss economic issues and relations among the surrounding countries. The most recent topic discussed was China’s top projects in an oil pipeline that will transfer oil from Kazakhstan through Caspian Sea into China.
How does this apply to Xinjiang?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was formed in hopes that China’s neighboring states would monitor the activities of their citizens and given rewards in areas of trade and investment. The SCO will help combat the terrorism, Islamic extremism, and separatism that the Chinese government is trying to reduce in Xinjiang. An essential point to remember is that although the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has interest in combating terrorism, Islamic extremism, and separatism, each country looks upon this issue with varying degrees. It is a very delicate subject, as China’s power is a potential threat to the interests of the other states. China’s goals include identifying potential outside support that may add to the tension between many of the Uyghurs and the Chinese government, thus encouraging other countries to prevent their Ugyhur citizens form supporting separatism in China.