Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Written by Camden Hanley – September 19, 2022

For the first time in 970 days, Xi Jinping has left China for international travel. He has arrived at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The SCO is an intergovernmental organization formed by the PRC in 2001. It mainly focuses on regional security issues, but regional development is another priority that gets discussed. It has nine member states and twelve other states participate as observer states or dialogue partners.

His first meeting was with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was their first face-to-face meeting since late February when they met at the Beijing Olympics. Xi said he was happy to meet with his “old friend” again. Among the main topics discussed was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin readout on the meeting states “We appreciate our Chinese friends’ balanced position in connection with the Ukraine crisis.” It also said that Russia would address Chinese questions and concerns about the invasion.

However, its not all about the Sino-Russian relationship at the SCO meeting. Kazakhstan suspended its membership in the CSTO, a Russian led security organization that includes several former Soviet republics. The PRC has backed this move with a statement from the foreign ministry stating it “firmly supports Kazakhstan in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” This shows the PRC plans on growing more assertive in Central Asia. This may complicate relations with Russia because Russia has generally viewed this area as within their sphere of influence. While they have similar interests, Russia and the PRCs interests in the area are different which could lead to future disagreements.

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