Pakistan's Premier Multilingual News Agency

Eurasian unity: SCO’s growing influence

Beijing, 4 July 2024, (GNP): A club of Eurasian countries, led by China and Russia, is set to expand again this week. This time, it will include Belarus.

Belarus is expected to be admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at its annual leaders’ summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. This move is another effort by Beijing and Moscow to transform the group from a regional security bloc into a geopolitical counterweight to Western institutions led by the United States and its allies.

Belarus will become the new state to join SCO, following Iran’s full membership last year.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have arrived in Astana for the summit starting Wednesday, marking their second meeting this year. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is not attending the summit, highlighting some members’ unease about the SCO’s current direction.

Founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to combat terrorism and promote border security, the SCO has expanded in recent years. This growth aligns with Beijing and Moscow’s shared ambition to counter what they perceive as US “hegemony” and reshape the international system in their favor.

In 2017, the bloc expanded for the first time to include India and Pakistan. With the addition of Belarus, it will have 10 members, representing over 40% of the world’s population and roughly a quarter of the global economy. The organization also includes two observer states, Afghanistan and Mongolia, and more than a dozen “dialogue partners,” ranging from Myanmar to Turkey and the Arab states.

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The SCO’s expansion follows the BRICS group of major emerging economies, also led by China and Russia, more than doubling its membership and significantly extending its global reach last year.

The BRICS’ rapid growth highlights the increasing influence and ambition of these alternative international groupings, as they seek to challenge the established global order dominated by Western nations.

This parallel expansion of both SCO and BRICS underscores a strategic effort by Beijing and Moscow to build a network of alliances that can effectively counterbalance the United States and its allies.

Moreover, these developments signal a shift in global dynamics, with emerging economies and authoritarian regimes finding common ground in their opposition to Western dominance. The inclusion of countries like Belarus and Iran in the SCO reflects a broader trend of regional powers banding together to assert their sovereignty and pursue independent foreign policies.