Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Uzbekistan on the sidelines the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders’ convention and strengthened their relations. The Russian leader wished the 20th National Congress of the CCP success and confirmed his position of support for the CCP’s sovereignty claim over Taiwan.
This is the second time the two leaders have spoken face to face. Their previous meeting was on February 4 during the Winter Olympic Games, where they agreed that “friendship between their countries has no limits.”
Initially, the summit was called the Shanghai Five (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan). It was created in 1996 as a forum to build trust and demilitarize borders.
However, as of 2001, other countries (Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan) were added. And its name was changed to the current Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
However, Evan Feigenbaum, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, said SCO unity has been elusive.
Voice of America reported, “The group has difficulty addressing fundamental security issues because it includes long-standing enemies like India and Pakistan. And it has had difficulty pushing for regional economic integration because it is neither a trade pact nor an investment vehicle, and its members often disagree on specific infrastructure and development plans.”
Some international observers believe the organization’s objectives have expanded to include greater military, counterterrorism and information-sharing cooperation, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
In addition, the SCO has intensified its focus on regional economic initiatives, such as the recently announced Belt and Road Initiative integration, which has been highly contested in the West.
U.S. Republican Representative Brad Wenstrup introduced legislation on February 18, to address the CCP’s investments in seaports around the world.
He stated, “The Chinese regime has gone so far as to build seaports in several countries to expand its military influence, which is of concern to the U.S.”
He added, “Once the Chinese regime has made its investments, they will treat those countries as their hostages.”
The SCO is preparing to take a major step by granting membership to Iran. This could provoke reactions from Washington.
According to Tass, Iran has said that it will be part of the SCO.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on September 12, “The process of Iran’s admission (to the SCO) is coming to an end. An agreement on Iran’s obligations to obtain membership status in the organization will be officially signed at the next SCO meeting.”
In addition, Belarus could soon be upgraded from the observer list to a full member state.
According to Belarusian news agency BelTA, Russia fully supports Belarus’s desire to join the SCO, the Russian ambassador said in a statement on the website of the Russian Embassy in Belarus.
Boris Gryzlov said, “Certainly, Russia fully supports Belarus’ aspiration to join the SCO…. I am sure that it will significantly contribute to the implementation of the goals set by the organization.”
Other China-Russia meetings that worry the West
Earlier this month, the disputed Vostok-2022 (East-2022) Military Games, also known as the Moscow Military Games 2022 kicked off with China participating.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on September 1, “In total, more than 50,000 troops, 5,000 heavy weapons units, 140 aircraft and 60 ships will take part in the Vostok-2022 exercises.”
The military exercises ended on September 7, and took place at seven ranges in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan.
The Associated Press reported that Alexander Gabuyev, a political analyst who closely follows Russia-China ties, noted, “It is very important for Beijing to demonstrate to the U.S. that it has the means to put pressure on the U.S. and its global interests.”
Gabuyev said, “The joint maneuvers with Moscow, including naval exercises, are intended to signal that if the pressure on Beijing continues, it will have no choice but to strengthen the military partnership with Russia.” He added, “It will have a direct impact on the interests of the U.S. and its allies, including Japan.”
The West joins forces to counter the CCP’s influence
On September 11, the Blue Pacific Partnership (PBP) take advantage of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly to organize a meeting of the five countries to discuss Pacific island nation issues.
PBP, which includes Japan, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, was established on June 24 to support Pacific island countries and has already held many discussions on issues important to member countries.
In addition, on August 14, the joint military exercises between Indonesia and the U.S. called “Garuda Shield” came to an end.
Asialyst reported that Australia, Japan, Singapore and nine other countries – Canada, South Korea, France, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the UK, Timor-Leste, and New Zealand – participated as observers.
General Mark Milley, U.S. Army chief of staff on his visit through Jakarta, said the Chinese military was increasingly aggressive in its interactions with U.S. military aircraft and ships, as well as other Asian countries.
Milley said, “Indonesia is of critical strategic importance in the region and has always been a key partner of the United States.”
The race to consolidate itself as the top military leader in the world has always been the CCP’s goal and it seems unwilling to be relegated to second place.