The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting is set to showcase growing alignment between China and Russia, through closer integration of the Beijing-marshalled Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) with the Moscow-driven Eurasian Economic Union (EEAU), steered by a 10-year developmental plan.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang hosted a banquet for the heads of government from the SCO countries on Monday, setting the stage for a day-long session on Tuesday. The meeting, in which Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghanistan’s Chief Executive (CE) Abdullah Abdullah are to participate, is expected to focus on top developmental goals for the grouping.
Kazakhstan is also expected to attract considerable attention during the deliberations. India is being represented by Minister of State for External Affairs, V.K. Singh.Silk Route global order
Analysts point out that SCO is part of the emerging Eurasia-centred Silk Road geopolitical architecture pillared by China and Russia, along with the Central Asian Republics. But the grouping is expanding rapidly towards South Asia, with the inclusion of India and Pakistan as full members remaining only a procedural formality. Nepal has become an observer state, and Iran’s elevation to full membership is also under active consideration.
On Monday, a commentary in China’s state-run Xinhua news agency pointed out that in comparison with the annual gathering of SCO heads of state, the Prime Ministers’ meeting focuses more on member countries’ development issues and their economic collaboration. The shadow of the 2008 economic crisis and Beijing’s drive to establish new growth engines along the SREB will also be an area of focus.
The dovetailing of the SREB with the Russia-backed EEU is expected to be one of major talking points. The Xinhua commentary points out that Russia has also played a leading role in accelerating regional economic integration through the EEU — a regional organisation which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
The write-up added that during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in May, he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed a joint statement on aligning the SREB and the EEU blueprints.