Will SCO hold?

Jolt if not toast

The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) was born out of China’s desire to engage the Muslim Central Asian states in a co-operative framework to keep a lid on separatism in Xinjiang. Along with Russia, these states came together to address the threats from “terrorism, separatism and extremism”, the “three forces”, for short.

Now, the Chinese authorities have blamed the ongoing riots in Xinjiang on the same “three forces.” But it is quite likely that the largely Muslim population of Central Asiawill see the situation for what it is—repression of the Uighur population—and sympathise with their religious and ethnic counterparts. [Beyond Central Asia, the Gulf countries have already expressed concern and and a Turkish minister has called for a boycott of Chinese goods. Turkey might also raise the issue at the UN Security Council.]

Popular anti-China sentiment might not immediately translate into political action given that Central Asia is ruled by authoritarian regimes. Even so, these governments cannot afford to be seen as too close to the oppressors of the Uighur people. If the unrest continues, the Central Asian republics will be forced to review their current—“but it’s China’s internal affair”—position.

Even otherwise, it will be harder now for the presidents of the Central Asian republics to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the president of China against the “three forces.” So it might well be that this year’s summit in Moscow was SCO’s high water mark. It is too early to predict the end of the SCO but the Uighur revolt will give it a jolt.

6 thoughts on “Will SCO hold?”

  1. “Turkish minister has called for a boycott of Chinese goods”

    At this rate the muslim countries have to think of becoming self sufficient soon. Every country in the world seems to offend them.

    Danish products banned, French products banned ,US satan

  2. @Sudhir,

    if you don’t see the situation as substantively different from cartoons, you ain’t getting the point dude.

  3. Nitin – I just noticed that Google and Bing are displaying Arunachal Pradesh border with China as a dotted line and the whole state as disputed. Any idea if this is how it has been shown in the past? If not, this is pretty annoying.

  4. Isn’t it too early to decide weather these recent developments will have any consequence on Sino-Islamic front? Specifically, the SCO? While we know: Central Asian states are far more liberal than their South-Eastern and Asian counterparts, more so, because of nostalgia of USSR. Barring, maybe, Uzbeks, SCO is more of an economic-military partnership group. A jolt, maybe? Though, it can also be dismissed and understood by the Muslim masses’; given that ONLY China has been blindly favoring Islamic Nations in trouble. Iran to Sudan. And more recently, Iraq giving oil contracts to Chinese companies. It should be an interesting situation of an old Chinese cult: May You Live in Interesting times!

  5. I was somewhat taken aback by the lack of international outrage and chatter about the recent events in China, especially when you look at the wail of outrage that the events in Iran had illicited in the weeks before. One of the reasons is clearly because of the limited information getting out of China, but I wouldn’t like to think that this was the only reason.

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