22nd SCO summit: silver lining against odds
Editor's Note: The author is President of Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR). The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
At a time when the world is at the crossroad of keeping the international community divided for vested interests, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)’s 22nd summit unleashes a strong voice for unity, harmony, co-existence, mutual respect and multilateralism.
It seems to be a positive answer to the global challenges plagued by protectionism, unilateral rules of human rights, misconceived sanctions, hegemonic ambitions, economic crunches, food security, climatic hazards and many more.
SCO’s aura and oneness message instill a sense that whenever a void is left by international powers and institutions letting the world plunge into a tailspin of economic downturn and conflicts due to their lop-sided visions, China comes up to take the role of a global leader offering a common path of prosperity and progress.
International eyeballs has been zooming in SCO’s 22nd summit and its development as it accounts for 41 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of the global GDP, which keeps attracting more countries to fathom SCO’s pivot role in interpreting and showcasing new forms of international relations, new forms of international organizations, and depicting new forms of human civilization.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attendance in the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has given a clear signal that the Chinese leadership stands by world and especially those members of the international community that desperately need support and partnership to stay afloat on geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-strategic landscapes. Xi’s presence at the SCO summit has also served as a new booster for China’s cooperation with Central Asian and South Asian countries and push forward BRI.
Since the global dynamics have been posing threats to people already battered by inflation and energy crisis in the backdrop of frivolous sanctions by the US and the West, SCO has a new role guiding the world to work in synergy and forge ahead. Western countries led by the US are now threatening the global industrial security, including energy and food, in the form of economic sanctions. Therefore, economic security has also become a focus of SCO.
SCO members have ramped up economic and trade cooperation. As one of the latest deliveries of SCO economic cooperation, China Development Bank (CDB) completed 63 cooperation projects under the framework of the SCO Interbank Consortium, giving loans totaling $14.6 billion to member banks and partner banks by August, covering production capacity cooperation, infrastructure, green and low-carbon development, and agriculture.
SCO members have also witnessed robust development in recent years. In 2021, the combined GDP of SCO members reached about $23.3 trillion, accounting for nearly 24 percent of the global GDP, which is over 13 times larger than that of the time of its establishment in 2001.
In 2021, China's trade with other SCO members reached $343.1 billion, up 40 percent year-on-year. In general, SCO members' total foreign trade totaled $6.6 trillion as of 2021, an increase of 100 times from 20 years earlier.
Given the complexity of international and regional situations, SCO’s presence on the world stage is an important pillar to underpin multilateralism and win-win cooperation, and lay down foundation for a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.
Analysts say that SCO has acquired broader significance for the sound development of international relations and cooperation, especially at a time when globalization has been under attack recently from US-led unilateralism and hegemonism, and mutually beneficial trade rules are being eroded for political purposes.
They believed that the use of RMB and other currencies of the countries under the SCO framework in trade settlement will greatly support regional energy and food security since Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan - all SCO member states - are major world energy suppliers. Russia and other SCO countries are also major food suppliers.
RMB ranked the fifth as a reserve currency in the first quarter of 2022, accounting for 2.88 percent in the Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves, according to the latest data from the IMF.