The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS The Roles of China, Russia (and India)

Since its inception as the Shanghai Five group in 1996, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SGO) performed a number of tasks for its members – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan (and also India, Iran and Pakistan as observers). Originally a regional forum to discuss the demilitarization of borders, it has broadened (in tandem with the increasing relevance of some of its members, the BRICS) to promote cooperation in several issue areas – non-military issues, such as energy, finance, and commerce, consolidate its relevance for regional and global patterns of power. Defense and security remain, though, top agenda items. From Islamic extremism in Central Asia to fears of ethnic separatism in western China and crisis in Ukraine, SCO become more than a talking shop for regional security issues. This monitor provides insights on the role of the three BRICS members in SCO – China, India and Russia. The pace of SCO’s institucionalization indicates a regional organization with teeth, able to debate and to make crucial decisions on regional issues – in an acknowledged attempt to avoid Western interference.