Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Cagri Erdem (Dogus University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7308-3.ch019
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The colossal economic transformations and political intrusions had been affecting brutally China and the Soviet Union in the final decades of the twentieth century. Currently, Russia is a gigantic power struggling to rebuild its economic base in an era of globalization. On the other hand, the economic rise of China has attracted a great deal of attention and labeled as a success story by the Western world. China and Russia have made a number of efforts to strengthen bilateral ties and improve cooperation on a number of economic/political/diplomatic fronts. Since the mid-1990s, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has been an important feature of Eurasian politics and a vehicle to forge a new sort of cooperation between China and Russia. A number of issues related to geopolitics, security, the economy, and regional politics have been handled by the SCO member states.
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Since the end of the Cold War, several scholars have suggested that the regions of the world have gained increased importance in the current international system and they act as an emerging potent force in the process of globalization (Holm & Sørensen, 1995; Mittelman, 2000). The Westphalian state is referred as a system of political authority based on territory and autonomy and it has been the dominant form in the international system up to the 1990s (Caporaso, 2000). In the past decade, however, the underpinnings of this system have been challenged by the creation of new regional unions or the restructuring of already existing ones. Consequently, the international system has witnessed a cohabitation of multiple forms of governance at multi level. Regions are the building blocks of this new international system and inherently, changes that take place within them affect the international system overall. To certain extend the regions and their development provides a context for the explanation of newly emerged systemic trends.

This chapter will argue that the 21st century saw the strengthening of the existing regional systems or the naissance of many loose and new regional systems. The chapter will discuss regional integration theories while providing examples from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

In distinction from European Union, the SCO as a regional system is characterized by the absence of democracy and the continuation of authoritarian leadership (Ambrosio, 2008). The nature of the regime in place limits the possibility of interest and preference formation from bottom-up. Consequently, regional integration theories utilized to explain European integration becomes blurry when applied to the SCO. Finally, the chapter will evaluate the development of the SCO over the past decade by taking in consideration Chinese and Russian approaches. Yet, the contention of this chapter is that since most of the developed conceptual framework as well as the case studies vis-à-vis the regional systems are Eurocentric, the application of these lenses to the growing number of regional systems in other parts of the globe remains at best problematic, and at worst elusive.

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