(AsiaNews) - The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) is set to approve a
strategic plan to expand co-operation, not only in the security field but also
in the economy, opening a new Silk Road that would unite Asia from Turkey to
China, reaching as far as the Kamchatka Peninsula. The plan will be presented
at SCO meeting in Beijing on 6-7 June.
Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping laid down the plan's major points to
journalists yesterday. "The international situation is going through some
complex and deep changes, and factors of instability and uncertainty are
increasing," Cheng said. "Member states are harbouring higher expectations
for the role of the SOC." In fact, "The wish for greater growth of the SOC is
also more urgent and more determined."
group, which was founded in 2001, includes China and Russia as well as four
former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
initial goal was to enhance security co-operation and better fight terrorism
(especially Islamic). Since then, it has become an area of economic exchange
Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have obtained observer status. Belarus and Sri
Lanka are dialogue partners. In June, Afghanistan will become an observer and
Turkey will be a dialogue partner.
summit is expected to see progress in building a transnational transportation
network and speeding up the process of setting up a regional bank.
will bring closer together the region's most dynamic economies (China and India)
to countries with huge energy reserves (Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan), unifying
an area going from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, a new Silk Road,
in other words.
Silk Road refers to a network of interlinking trade routes that ran from
Lebanon and Syria through Iraq, Persia and Central Asia all the way to Xian.
thousands of years, caravans and traders followed these routes travelling
between ancient Rome to imperial China. Scientific discoveries and religious
beliefs moved along them as well.
Silk Road saw Christianity, Buddhism and Islam reach China. The compass as well
as knowledge about geometry and astronomy travelled in the other direction.
new geographic discoveries and the opening of new maritime routes in the 15th
century, as well as obstacles like the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the
isolation of the Ming Empire, led to Silk Road's decline, replaced by a new
sea-centred trading system dominated first by Great Britain, then the United
new element about June's meeting is the presence of two nations that are
closely tied with the West, namely Turkey (a NATO member) and Afghanistan
(still under US and international military control).
widening and deepening (through closer economic co-operation) comes at a time
when the United States is also trying to boost its presence in the Trans-Pacific
region through a military-economic alliance with Asia-Pacific nations.
already see China and the United States coming butting heads. Greater co-operation
among countries that are so different could be another major hurdle.
SCO's case, "to make the relationship stronger, we also need an exchange of
people and culture to enhance understanding," said Pan Zhiping, Central Asia
expert at Xinjiang University.