The third annual head-of-state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Moscow on May 20, 2003, may be considered a minor water-shed in the life of the organization, made up of Russia, China, and the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. First, the meeting implemented concrete measures to institutionalize the organization, by mandating the creation of two permanent offices and attendant staff—an SCO Secretariat, and a Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). Second, China has since emerged as the first among equals of the players in the SCO in terms of influence and benefits, when it was decided that Beijing would be the site of the proposed SCO Secretariat, subsequently inaugurated on January 15, 2004, and that its first Secretary-General would be the former Chinese Vice-Foreign Minster and Ambassador to Russia, Zhang Deguang. Third, although cooperation among governments of member states against terrorism, religious fundamentalism, and separatism has remained the focus of the SCO, the summit expanded its purview to the economic sphere by encouraging trade, investment and infrastructural development among member states. Lastly, by creating the RATS in Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent after protracted discussion, Russia and China demonstrated that they have recovered sufficiently from the shock and numbness of the introduction of United States soldiers and weaponry into Afghanistan and Central Asia to frame their own approach to regional security within the rubric of the SCO.
|Journal||The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2005|