What does China see in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

Just turned 20, the grouping provides China with the opportunity to dominate Central Asia. But with power comes responsibilities in an unstable neighbourhood

Nato soldiers conducting an inspection near the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in March last year. As the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) turned 20, Nato was discussing its plans for withdrawing from Afghanistan, a country sitting on China’s border where it increasingly looks likely that a government controlled or heavily influenced by the Taleban is going to take over. The writer says this is the central problem for the SCO which China is going to have to address at some point. PHOTO: REUTERS

While the world's attention was on the G-7, Nato and Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) turned 20 last week. Bringing together China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan, and built around counter-terrorism cooperation, the SCO is sometimes described as Nato of the East.

But this misses the bigger impact it has had in terms of providing China a vehicle through which to shape the Eurasian heartland.

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