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MOSCOW, March 12. /TASS/. The prime task of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is to keep Central Asia stable, polled experts told TASS. Many countries would like to join it, for they see it as an alternative to the mono-polar world, and for a good reason. To a large extent the future of that organization will depend on Russian-Chinese relations, experts say, adding the results of discussions and meetings at the 10th session of the SCO forum in Khanty Mansiisk provided ample evidence for that.
Experts discussed ways of enhancing trading and economic cooperation and the outlook for the organization’s expansion by admitting India and Pakistan as full-fledged members. Russia welcomes the idea of such expansion. China is more cautious.
"The SCO and BRICS are two organizations that to the greatest extent embody the ideas of a multi-polar world - BRICS at the global level, and the SCO, at the regional one," the head of the Asia sector at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Boris Volkhonsky, told TASS. "The SCO looks attractive, because it is a centre of power alternative to the mono-polar world structure."
Inside the SCO, Volkhonsky said, there are two indisputable leaders - Russia and China. "China would like to make the SCO an economic organization first and foremost. In that case it will take the commanding position. Russia puts the emphasis on the problems of security and struggle with terrorism."
"If the SCO does expand, if India joins in, then the organization’s agenda will be reformatted to bring a greater focus on economic integration, as India is keenly interested in this. But in that case China will not enjoy any major competitive edges," Volkhonsky believes.
China is the SCO’s obvious leader these days, says assistant lecturer at the Oriental Studies Department of the Higher School of Economics, Mikhail Karpov. To a large extent the organization’s future will depend on Russian-Chinese relations - both political and economic. "These relations are the bonds that keep the SCO together," he told TASS. "The organization’s main problem is to maintain military, political and economic stability in Central Asia after the US forces leave Afghanistan. The SCO is capable of playing a certain role in that respect."
Small wonder, therefore, that many countries would like to join the SCO," Karpov said.
"The organization positions itself as an alternative to Western ones. And this is one of the factors that makes it so attractive. At the same time the SCO cannot be called anti-western," he said.
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