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Who is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)?

Who is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)?

Few people know about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that was established in June 2001. It began as the ‘Shanghai Five’ in 1996 and has developed into much more than the original pact: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Though the SCO may have been establish with regional purposes its reach and concerns are most certainly global.

According to their own official website (Feb. 2017):, “The main objectives of the SCO are: strengthening mutual trust and good-neighborliness between the member countries; promoting their effective cooperation in political, trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural spheres, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection and others; joint security and the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region; promoting the creation of a democratic, just and rational new international political and economic order.”

October 2015 the Council on Foreign Relations stated, “the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan founded in Shanghai in 2001.  Originally formed as a confidence-building forum to demilitarize borders, the organization’s goals and agenda have since broadened to include increased military and counterterrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing.”

The SCO position towards the United States has grown stricter and bolder.  In 2001, SCO countries allow US military presence and were cooperative in most matters of counter-terrorism.  In 2002, the SCO rejected America’s application for SCO membership.  In turn China and Russia wanted Pakistan and had Iran not been subject to UN sanctions they would have likely been fast-tracked to membership.  July 2005, Uzbekistan (with the SCO) asked for US troops to be withdrawn from the country.  And it was not long until Russia and China were doing joint military training and exercises.   More so, the SCO grew significantly in numbers and global policy.

As of January 2017, the SCO has the original 6 ‘Member States;’ and 6 that ‘have observer status: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Belarus, the Republic of India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Mongolia, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;’ and ‘six countries are partners in the SCO dialogue – the Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Republic of Nepal, Republic of Turkey, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.’

The SCO 18 appears to be largely anti-Christian and anti-America.  However, January 2017 the SCO website expanded to three languages – Chinese, Russian and English.

The SCO represents (2016; b = billion; m = million) 45% of the world’s population: China (1.38 b; 18.5%), India (1.3 b; 17.5%), Pakistan (196m; 2.6%), Russia (147m; 2%), Iran (80m; 1%), Turkey (80m; 1%), Uzbekistan (32m; .4%), Nepal (28m; .4%), Afghanistan (28m; .4%), Sri Lanka (21m; .28%), Kazakhstan (18m; .24%), Cambodia (15.6m; .2%), Azerbaijan (9.8m; .13%), Belarus (9.5m; .13%), Tajikistan (8.6m; .11%), Kyrgyzstan (6.1m; .08%), Mongolia (3.1m; .04%), and Armenia (3m; .04%).

SCO members have trillions in gold stockpiles India (558 tonnes), Russia (1,460 tonnes) and China (1,800 tonnes).   Also, Russia was the top oil producer in 2016, with China and Iran coming in 5th and 7th.   In terms of nuclear warheads, the SCO has more than any other alliance, country or organization.  Russia (7300), China (260), Pakistan (130), and India (120).

Central Asia-Caucasus ANALYST

August 14, 2014 article by the Central Asia-Caucasus ANALYST, ‘Shanghai Cooperation Organization Set to Expand.’  They write: “SCO member states cover more than three-fifths of Eurasia with a quarter of the world’s population. The addition of India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia will add another 1.6 billion people to the SCO’s membership…  The world will get a chance to see the SCO’s military capacities during its Peace Mission 2014 exercise, to be held August 24-29 in China’s Inner Mongolia region. Peace Mission 2014, the SCO’s largest joint military operation in a decade, will involve about 7,000 troops, with China providing the majority of the forces…’

‘The SCO expansion comes at a time of rising tension between NATO, the U.S. and EU with Russia over its policies towards Ukraine… One point on which dominant SCO members China and Russia concur is to limit or end U.S. military influence in Central Asian since it first appeared in late 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The SCO scored a notable triumph towards that end when on July 5, 2005, when the presidents of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan at a SCO summit signed a joint declaration requesting the U.S.-led anti-terrorist coalition forces to set a date for leaving Central Asia. Three weeks later, following Washington’s ambivalent response to the May 13, 2005, tragic events in Andijan, the Uzbek government on July 29 told the Pentagon to evacuate its airbase facilities in Karshi-Khanabad within six months, which it did in November 2005In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, then Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Roza Otunbayeva held a news conference on July 6, 2005, to rehash the SCO declaration’s arguments for setting a deadline on the U.S.-led military presence. Otunbayeva reiterated the SCO contention that Afghanistan had essentially been stabilized and that consequently, active military operations were no longer necessary, implying that the U.S. Manas airbase had lost its reason for being. Citing the 2001 U.S.-Kyrgyzstan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Otunbayeva stated, “We intend to act in line with this and discuss the matter. We want to know how long the base is going to stay.” The U.S. would not leave Manas until nine years later, in 2014.’

‘Another indication of the SCO’s ideological slant against U.S. is that, while the U.S. has sought observer status at the SCO, its requests have been denied. In light of worsening relations between the West and Russia over Ukraine, China’s increasing assertions of sovereignty in the South China Sea, sanctions on Iran over its civilian nuclear energy program and rising Eurasian nervousness about the unsettled state of Afghanistan after the International Security Assistance Force completes its drawdown in December and the subsequent security vacuum there, the value of the SCO to member states as a bloc against Western interference, terrorism and economic integration will only increase.”





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