Contemplating SCO and QUAD in Global Geopolitics « Khabarhub
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Contemplating SCO and QUAD in Global Geopolitics


12 August 2022  

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China has been focal in the Indo-Pacific Region (IPR) not merely for the US but also the region. IPR is the priority though the European crisis is observed with diverse speculations.

When the European crisis is a global challenge so will the crisis in the IPR turn out to be a challenge to the world.

India in South Asia will be of presiding in international diplomacy with the US and the Allies on top of China and Russia both competitors of the US. Russia’s challenges to reshape Europe, China’s undertakings to put in order the IPR, and India’s dependence on both China and Russia are taking along comparably.

The expansion of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) and its relationship with other regional and extra-regional intergovernmental organizations are focusing to contradict China’s influence along with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a counteract or a non-western geopolitical organization. But India is a member in both settings.

The QUAD meeting has been completed while Uzbekistan will host the SCO’s Heads of State Council on 15 to 16th September which will include China, India, and Russia on top of new members expanding to the Persian Gulf.

The US engagement with intergovernmental organizations, multilaterally and bilaterally in the IPR has been reflected by the US Interim National Security Strategy 2021, the Indo-Pacific Strategy 2022, National Defence Strategy 2022 and South Asia Policy.

With the first-ever Quad Cybersecurity Day, space endeavor to improve public access to Earth observation satellite data and applications, the member nations agreed to work together to create an Earth observation-based monitoring and sustainable development framework.

These guidelines will contribute to safeguarding vital US national interests of protecting the American people, expanding America’s prosperity, and realigning and defending democratic values.

China’s White Paper on Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific 2017 and Chinese Grand Strategy, 2021 White paper on Tibet, New Border Law that is effective from Jan 2022, China’s white paper on Democracy that works Dec 2021.

The policy papers provide the future of China’s new Asian security concept in the emerging regional security landscape.

For the US, Allies and partners are of precedence. For China deescalating US presence in the region is likewise considerable.

The QUAD, Trilateral Security Pact between Australia, UK and the US (AUKUS) 2021, engagements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Lateral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and their expansion as well as collaboration with the Western setups like North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), G7 and the European Union (EU) that will occupy considerable status in the coming decades.

International diplomatic proceedings have been taking place more than usual but with fundamental differences. Two months after the Russian invaded Ukraine, Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 was held on 20-22 April 2022 with President Xi’s proposal of a new ‘Global Security Initiative’.

Beijing’s support for China is most likely apparent though the position has not been clear. 12-13 May witnessed the second member states of ASEAN and US special Summit after six years. The fourth time and second in person QUAD meeting on 24th May in Tokyo in less than two years.

ASEAN and India Special Summit happened three weeks after the QUAD meeting. The Shangri-La Dialogue was held in Singapore from 10-12 June.

The Russian-led 2022 Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) was held from 15-18th June in St. Petersburg.

The 14th BRICS virtual meeting was held on 23-24 June under the theme “Foster High-quality Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development”.

The western allies went through a six-day summit with a Euro Summit on 24th June, followed immediately by the 48th G7 from 26 to 28th June and ended with a NATO meeting on 28th June.

The first face-to-face G20 Foreign Ministers meeting between Russia and the opponents of the war was held on 7-8th July in Indonesia trying to find ways and means to solve over and above garner support for each other’s perspectives.

Instead of focusing on the economic framework the summit steadfast on food security and energy with neither a joint statement nor an announcement of any agreements.

Uzbekistan as chair hosted the eight members — China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan SCO Foreign Minister (FM)’s two-day meeting on 28th-29th July. The ASEAN FM’s meeting concluded on 5th Aug.

The Expanding QUAD Cooperation

An unattached alignment to deliver assistance subsequently after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the QUAD was tossed as a concept until 2017 but has grown as an important group of nations with the view of other nations being part of it.

With the focus on the IPR, it backs the free and open, rule-based global order. The initial resentment alongside India’s stand on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by the US and other Western countries, and the 2+2 dialogue attended by the foreign and defense ministers of both India and the US in April facilitated their differences.

The substantial reliance, in fact, on Russia continues to be India’s largest arms supplier even though its share has dropped to 49% from 60 to 70 percent of India’s conventional armories are either of Soviet or Russian origin though India is in search to diversify its weapons and acquisitions due to India’s decision to diversify its portfolio and boost domestic defense manufacturing. The Western understood India’s strategic security defense imports could not be overlooked.

Its unspoken purpose is to contain China while China terms it the “Asian NATO” dating back to 2007 when India conducted a joint naval exercise with Australia, Japan, Singapore and the US. The member nations’ relationship with China has deteriorated in recent years.

Besides New Zealand and South Korea, two QUAD members Australia and Japan were invited as partners to the NATO summit.

The relationship of SCO has expanded over the years, SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) has established relations with the African Union’s African Center for Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT).

Though China’s constituent was at the core of the summit meeting, with six leader-level working groups. The Indo-Pacific Partnership for maritime domain awareness, the QUAD fellowship, the vaccine partnership, and global health security, climate resilience, critical and emerging technologies, urgent need for a collective approach to enhancing cybersecurity through Quad Cybersecurity Partnership.

With the first-ever Quad Cybersecurity Day, space endeavor to improve public access to Earth observation satellite data and applications, the member nations agreed to work together to create an Earth observation-based monitoring and sustainable development framework.

The agreement endeavors to share space-based civil Earth observation data, along with providing a “Quad Satellite Data Portal” that aggregates links to their respective national satellite data resources, deepen cooperation to catalyze infrastructure assistance critical to driving to bridge the gap in productivity, prosperity, share a commitment to addressing debt issues post coronavirus pandemic in many countries.

This is by seeking USD 50 billion from public and private investments over the next five years under the G20 Common Framework through the “QUAD Debt Management Resource Portal which consists of multiple bilateral and multilateral capacity building assistance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief were conceded to sustenance a peaceful and prosperous IPR.

QUAD will extend support to countries through joint workshops in relation to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) Guidelines for Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.

Seven ASEAN members (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) signed the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with the QUAD nations.

SCO growing Determinations

‘Zbigniew Brzezinski’s theory elucidates that “control of the Eurasian landmass is the key to global domination and control of Central Asia is the key to control of the Eurasian landmass”.

The SCO was founded in 2001 to curtail terrorism in the region and enhance border security. But it cannot be contradicted that the objective counterbalancing the undertakings of the US and NATO in Central Asia and now in the IPR.

The November 2005 summit in Astana, Kazakhstan standout of its perception, it rejected the US observer status, became an observer in the UN General Assembly, representatives from South Asia nations India and Pakistan, Iran from the Persian Gulf and Mongolia from North Central Asia attended for the first time.

The Indian Army said “The exercise will also provide an opportunity to the Armed Forces of SCO Nations to train in counter-terrorism operations in an urban scenario in a multinational and joint environment.

It addressed the concerns of members states with the elaboration of the principles “The heads of member states point out that, against the backdrop of a contradictory process of globalization, multilateral cooperation which is based on principles of equal right and mutual respect, non-intervention in internal affairs of sovereign states, non-confrontational way of thinking and consecutive movement towards democratization of internal relations, contributes to overall peace and security, and call upon the international community, irrespective of its differences in ideology and social structure, to form a new concept of security based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and interaction”.

In the same meeting, Lavrov reiterated that “SCO is working to establish a rational and just world order and provides a unique opportunity to take part in the process of forming a fundamentally new model of geopolitical integration”.

The relationship of SCO has expanded over the years, SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) has established relations with the African Union’s African Center for Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT).

SCO which covers three-fifths of Eurasia with half of the world’s population is a political, economic and military organization with an aim to maintain peace, security and stability in the Eurasian region and also a non-western organization with three strong members China, India and Russia who abstained in the UNSC voting against Russian aggression.

The meeting of the FMs completed in July marking the 20th anniversary of the SCO charter and the 15th anniversary of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation with the title “Past, Present and Future”. State Councilor and FM Wang Yi are paying a visit to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan before arriving in Tajikistan and Russian FM Lavrov is arriving from Egypt.

With discussions on the Ukraine conflict, pandemic, Afghanistan, Trade, connectivity, terrorism, energy and food crisis; three things stand out one, no communique was issued that voices the dissimilarities in verdicts two, India did not approve the joint statement of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

India has not explained while China, Pakistan and Russia stressed it. Third, was the expansion of SCO with Iran that applied in 2008 as a member with the processing of the membership application of Belarus with support from Russia. Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are set to be given SCO Dialogue Partner status.

With the US and Allies’ withdrawal from Afghanistan the bordering states China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia have a common interest to eradicate terrorism.

China has particularly committed to assisting. Xi called for “involving Afghanistan in dialogues, and helping the Afghan people to overcome difficulties”.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been competing for influence in the Middle East. Biden visited Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Russian invasion and said “We have engaged anew in a great battle for freedom. A battle between democracy and autocracy. Between liberty and repression. This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”

SCO accepts the obligation and aptitude to perform a beneficiary function in endorsing regional security and seeking common development and joining to fight ‘three evil forces’ of terrorism, separatism and extremism along with promoting trade and economic growth and advancing people-to-people relations.

China and Russia have been leading the military exercises since 2005 and have held 11 drills together including Eight joint sea series naval drills.

Of them the “Peace Mission 2021” a counter-terrorism military exercise of member states held in Russia was important when China, India and Pakistan were together.

The SCO military collaboration is considered a groundbreaking affair in military relations and global cooperation to counter-terrorism with best practices between the armed forces.

The Indian Army said “The exercise will also provide an opportunity to the Armed Forces of SCO Nations to train in counter-terrorism operations in an urban scenario in a multinational and joint environment.

The scope of the exercise includes professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills and procedures, the establishment of joint command and control structures and elimination of terrorist threats”.

Joint exercises are aimed at deepening defense and security cooperation by improving their ability to cope with new challenges and threats and jointly safeguarding regional peace and security.

Besides bilateral and multilateral relationships China and Russia are linked with influential intergovernmental groups. The Central Asian Economic Union (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), five SAARC nations, three states of BIMSTEC and Cambodia of ASEAN and Turkey from NATO.

India and Pakistan’s entry in 2017 was the beginning of expanding interests in South Asia, while India has been reluctant in saving and redeeming SAARC.

SCO is formulating a new geopolitical alliance with a new geostrategic stride making world international politics more complicated.

The People’s Daily, the largest newspaper group in China of record of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expresses “The declaration points out that the SCO member countries have the ability and responsibility to safeguard the security of the Central Asian region and calls on Western countries to leave Central Asia”.

Matthew Brummer in the Journal of International Affairs in 2007 traces the effect of SCO opening out in the Persian Gulf as an alternative for energy and resources trade. Political scientist Thomas Ambrosio in Europe-Asia Studies Volume 60, 2008 – Issue 8 says that one of the aims is to ensure that liberal democracies could not gain ground. The SCO has also been argued of being the alliance of the east and to counter NATO.

Conclusion

While focusing on the emerging and the developing economy of nation states which is being hurt the most with multi-layer of crisis covid food energy, the expansion of the regional organization and the formation of two blocks is underway.

Finland and Sweden stood as neutral nations and garnered the Non-aligned policy when the Soviets and the Americans were at their climax.

The geopolitics with China-led Communism that is been labeled as a ‘New democracy’ principled by Xi Jinping’s thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a ‘new era’ versus the democracy preceded by the American is deliberately prevalent.

The European crisis or the Russian invasion of Ukraine not yet completed may covert as a broader battle for democracy and against autocratic regimes and illiberal values reinforcing the detached geopolitical set of circumstances.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been competing for influence in the Middle East. Biden visited Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Russian invasion and said “We have engaged anew in a great battle for freedom. A battle between democracy and autocracy. Between liberty and repression. This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”

But Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have been approved to enter SCO as a dialogue partner. Granting a similar status to Bahrain and Maldives is to begin, alongside the requests made by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Cambodia. Nepal is being granted Observer status.

US Secretary of Defense Austin during the keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue disparaged a series of coercion, aggressive and dangerous actions that threaten stability in Asia promising to support partners to defy intimidation, “Indo-Pacific countries shouldn’t face political intimidation, economic coercion, or harassment by maritime militias.”

A month later from Australia, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley commented on China’s military intentions towards the US and its Allies “China’s increasing in their aggressiveness in their rhetoric, but also in their activity” nonetheless stresses the interactions that are important particularly considered “unsafe or “unprofessional” due to the Chinese aircraft or ships operating in close proximity with US assets like the US C-130 transport plane had a particular type of encounter with Chinese aircraft.

The US is stepping up its operational activities in the South China Sea.

In February, Australian Defense Forces condemned the “unprofessional and unsafe military conduct” by China’s warship for using a laser to “illuminate” an Australian Defense Force jet.

China’s 2019 defense white paper states “The development of China’s national defense aims to meet its rightful security needs and contribute to the growth of the world’s peaceful forces; China will never threaten any other country or seek any sphere of influence.”

It is a gateway to Europe both maritime and continental, links the Bay of Bengal through South Asia, joins the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, attaches the Mediterranean Sea, and the South China Sea connecting to all the five oceans the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Artic and Southern Antarctic.

In the midst of the confounding geopolitical environment, Nepal needs to prepare for the international posture with China, the immediate northern neighbor, that will lead one of the blocks while Cold War 2.0 is formulating.

The two power blocks during the Cold War were on different continents. Nepal is principled by a Non-Alignment (NA) and the Five Principles of Co-existence as part of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) of 120 nations.

Finland and Sweden stood as neutral nations and garnered the Non-aligned policy when the Soviets and the Americans were at their climax.

With Helsinki and Stockholm as part of NATO will end their decades-long (200 years long in the Swedish case) policies on non-Alignment will become history with an end to NA in Europe uniting against an aggressive Russia

After 21 Years 21 nation-states that started from six and reached 18 are likely of being the most populous comprehensive regional organization and an expansion, strategically stretching across Asia linking major oceans and land routes.

It is a gateway to Europe both maritime and continental, links the Bay of Bengal through South Asia, joins the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, attaches the Mediterranean Sea, and the South China Sea connecting to all the five oceans the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Artic and Southern Antarctic.

In conclusion, we can note that the isolation of Russia by Western Organizations still faces continued cooperation in the East.

The SCO leverages interdependent economic, social, and political powers between countries like China, India, Iran, Russia, and other resourceful nations, all of whom envision economic growth in the East.

This is a well-thought-out geo-strategic move that will raise the SCO member state’s value in international relations in turn strengthening SCO’s stance in the world order.

(Basnyat is a strategic Analyst and a Nepali Army Maj. Gen. (Redt)

Publish Date : 12 August 2022 08:15 AM

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