Shanghai Cooperation Organization acts as a bridge between BRI and Eurasian Economic Union
As major global powers, China and Russia uphold the policy of nonalignment and do not seek to compete with each other or occupy spheres of influence. Nor do they want to set up strategic buffers. Instead, the two countries choose to rely on each other strategically, jointly maintain peace and stability, and achieve development based on respect for state sovereignty in the region. This will effectively enhance the strategic cooperation between China, Russia and other countries in the region as well as their abilities to jointly resist external risks.
To a large extent, it can eliminate the concerns of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) members about participating in the Belt and Road Initiative and will accelerate the formation of an economic order dominated by developing countries in the region.
The integration of the Belt and Road Initiative with the EAEU, a major cooperation mechanism in the Eurasian continent both geologically and economically, would certainly have a profound impact on the process of Eurasian economic integration. Russia and China are the driving forces behind the integration of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, and both countries are also the leading members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
As the most influential international organization in the Eurasian region, the SCO, featuring a complete system of rules and mechanisms, has close relations with the EAEU and the Belt and Road initiative, and is well positioned to play a platform role to protect their integration.
At the same time, the Belt and Road Initiative, the EAEU and the SCO are all products of South-South cooperation and adhere to the concepts of openness and win-win cooperation.
The SCO can play a major role in coordinating cooperation between the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative. First of all, the EAEU is an international organization with relatively complete internal mechanisms, which China’s Belt and Road Initiative lacks. During the process of integrating the process of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, national rules may conflict and there might be an absence of appropriate negotiation mechanisms, but these conflicts can be resolved through the SCO.
The SCO should give full play to the advantages of its members. In the financial field, for example, financing and de-dollarization are the priorities for cooperation. A lack of funds is one of the reasons why many EAEU projects have been delayed, and the promotion of many projects under the integration of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative is inseparable from China’s financial support.
China should attach greater importance to the role of the Interbank Consortium of the SCO, and continue its efforts to promote the establishment of the Development Bank of the SCO and special accounts, making possible its effective coordination with the Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the China Development Bank, the Eurasian Development Bank and other financial institutions to better serve integration and settlement in local currencies, in particular the expansion of renminbi settlement.
The EAEU is rich in energy resources. Russia intends to integrate this advantage within the union and seeks a more-favorable position in the world energy order. As energy prices remain in the doldrums, EAEU members want to diversify their energy exports, with China being the world’s most important energy market.
The SCO serves as the platform for synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the EAEU. With India and Pakistan joining as members, it now covers the central area of the Belt and Road routes.
With the support of China, Russia and other countries, strengthened cooperation between the SCO, the EAEU, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other organizations has been carried out to jointly promote regional integration in line with the interests of developing countries. The cooperation, which is open to the West, will inevitably bring to an end the Western monopoly of information, capital, technology, markets and other economic elements.
The construction of the Belt and Road Initiative not only provides huge support for this but also takes strong impetus from it. The Eurasian continent will gradually form a unified economic bloc and establish closer South-South cooperation with extra-regional countries through such mechanisms as BRICS, which comprises the five major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. At the same time, a more reasonable North-South cooperation can be conducted with the help of such institutions as the G20 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
The author is secretary-general of the Belt and Road Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a member of the CASS Council on the China-Russia Strategic Partnership of Coordination. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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