White Man’s Media misses it again. The recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation held 15-16 September 2022 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Mainly noted was the meeting on the sidelines, of the presidents of China and Russia, something which was cast in the overall Western narrative of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The meeting, the 22nd annual gathering, represents however, another of the great changes rapidly taking place in the geo-political stage.
The U.S. led unipolar world present for the past 30 years, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, is being challenged by the emergence of new organisations and networks. To the Shanghai Cooperative Agreement, we can add the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) grouping, the China initiated Belt and Road Initiative, along with Chinese led financing agencies.
The unipolar world as ‘the end of history’ with eternal Western triumph, declared so confidently by Francis Fukuyama has proved to be short-lived.
The Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (SCO) represents a grouping of nations centred on the Eurasia landmass, including the two nations, China and India, expected within the next few decades, to represent the world’s two largest economies. Along with them, the organisation includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Russia. It draws nations together, understood in the West largely by their enmity, India and Pakistan, India, and China, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Other Eurasian nations have observer status, Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Belarus, while an extensive list of nations have dialogue status, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Tellingly, included are Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, and Turkey, a NATO member.
During the just completed summit Iran signed a memorandum of obligations paving the way for its accession to full SCO membership, while a membership application was also received from Belarus.
The SCO coordinates large scale projects around transport, telecommunications, energy, security, defence, economics and banking, and cultural affairs. As an organisation it describes itself as being committed to ‘non-alignment, non-interference in each other’s affairs, non-confrontation, and dialogue.’
In 2021, the combined GDP of the participating nations was $23.3 trillion, 13 times higher than when the organisation was founded in 2001.
The SCO now accounts for about 80% of Eurasia’s territory and 30% of global GDP. It is prescient to remember the words of the British geographer Halford Mackinder, who in 1904 wrote, referring to what has become known as Eurasia, ‘who rules the world island commands the world.’ Former U.S National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski affirmed such control being the key to global domination.
This coalition of nations in Eurasia clearly represents a threat to the world’s leading hegemon. According to the Congressional Research Service, U.S. policymakers believe, ‘a regional hegemon in Eurasia would represent a concentration of power large enough to be able to threaten vital U.S. interests.’
The development of the SCO is closely linked to the Belt and Road Initiative. This Chinese led initiative, first announced by Chinese president, Xi Jinping in meetings in Kazakhstan and Indonesia during 2013, has since expanded to include 149 (as of August 2022) nations from around the world. The Belt is centred around a revival of the historic Silk Road, running across Eurasia, through the construction of rail and road transport, with the Road refering to the maritime routes between South-East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Infrastructure constructed under this initiative has included ports, airports, dams, energy infrastructure, bridges, and tunnels. By 2019 the BRI was active in nations representing 60% of the world’s population and 35% of the global GDP. It is estimated that trade along the BRI could soon account for 40% of world trade, with the BRI increasing global GDP by $7.1 trillion by 2040.
Much of this infrastructure development is funded through another China initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which like the BRI was established in 2013. The following year saw the commencement of the Silk Road Fund, designed to invest in businesses, rather than infrastructure projects.
The AIIB describes itself as being, ‘focused on developing Asia, but with members from all over the world, our investments in infrastructure and other productive sectors seek to foster sustainable economic development, create wealth, and improve infrastructure connectivity.’ By the end of 2020, the bank had 103 approved members, representing approximately 79% of the global population and 65% of global GDP. Currently capitalised at $US100 billion, the AIIB was granted Permanent Observer status in the deliberations of the United Nations General Assembly during 2018.
The Silk Road Fund is a state-owned investment fund of the Chinese government fostering increased investment in countries along the BRI. With a total capital of $US40 it has funded such projects as the construction of a Mombasa-Nairobi railway and the Karot Hydropower Project as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The rapidly changing world order is also seen in the emergence of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) initiative. These nations are set to be joined by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt, whose membership bids could be accepted at next year’s summit in South Africa. Iran and Argentina have also applied to join.
Representing over 40% of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP, the BRICS nations are developing a basket-based reserve currency and national digital currencies, while China is rapidly developing blockchain technology to support intensified cross-border economic interactions.
Indeed, the status of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency is increasingly under attack. While it still dominates, trust in the U.S. as reserve currency is being increasingly damaged, particularly by the U.S. Government use of economic sanctions to weaponise the international banking and insurance sectors, including the SWIFT fund transfer system. Assets have been seized, most notably recently, those of Russia. To forestall such further actions, the Russians have demanded payments be not made in U.S. dollars but rather in rubles, yuan, or UAE dirhams. Major trade deals are increasingly occurring via national currencies (Russia and Turkey, Russia and India, Russia, and Iran, Saudi Arabia and China).
Massive macro movements are occurring in our world. Living in the cocoon of much of the Western media one would know very little concerning them.