What is SCO and its Economic Development Strategy for 2030?
India's decision not to sign the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) Economic Development Strategy for 2030 has raised eyebrows and highlighted its concerns about China's influence within the organisation.
New Delhi made headlines recently for boldly choosing not to sign the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) Economic Development Strategy for 2030. This unusual act of dissent is viewed as India's way of preserving its economic and strategic independence amid China's growing presence within the organization. But what exactly is the SCO and what does it aim to do?
What is Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?
The SCO isn't just any run-of-the-mill alliance – it's a powerful political, economic, and security coalition. Formed in 2001 on the foundations of the Shanghai Five (established in 1996), the SCO comprises China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and various Central Asian nations. The group, originally focusing on regional security, has gradually expanded its horizons to include economic cooperation and cultural exchange.
Operating on a foundation of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, respect for diverse cultures, and common development, the SCO encourages collaboration among its member states on a variety of fronts. This extends from security and economic issues to cultural matters, all aimed at ensuring regional peace, stability, and security.
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Inside SCO's Economic Development Strategy for 2030
The Economic Development Strategy for 2030, a proposition by the SCO, was designed to amplify economic cooperation between member countries. The strategy aims to cultivate cooperation in key areas such as digital economy, transportation, finance, and energy. While the specifics of Tajikistan's proposal are still under wraps, the overriding ambition is evident: boosting regional economic growth and progress by harnessing the collective power of the member nations.
In addition, the strategy advocates for a multipolar world order, calling for a more representative and democratic structure for global governance. It also accentuates the SCO's commitment to inclusivity, as showcased by the recent induction of Iran as its ninth member.
The 2030 strategy is a piece of the SCO's larger puzzle to play a proactive role in the global economy, thus broadening its reach beyond the traditional realm of security.
The rationale behind India’s stand
India's decision to stand apart from the SCO's strategy has certainly caught global attention, as it's the only member nation to do so. But why? The main concern for India seems to be the perceived excessive influence of China over the strategy. Simply put, India senses a strong Chinese influence within the economic blueprint and hence, chose not to endorse it.
Reports suggest that India's hesitation largely stems from the final draft of the document. It reportedly contains numerous references to Chinese diplomatic catchphrases and policies that mirror the favoured strategies of Chinese President Xi Jinping, such as the Global Development Initiative. This heavy infusion of Chinese rhetoric further solidified India's decision to refrain from endorsing the SCO's strategy, emphasizing its intention to guard its strategic autonomy.
It's worth mentioning that India's non-support for the Economic Development Strategy is not an isolated incident. It follows a trend of repeated non-endorsement of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This consistency underlines India's longstanding apprehensions regarding China's strategic and economic ventures, particularly those touching upon projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.