Leaders pose for a group photo at the 14th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministers' meeting, in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, Dec 15, 2015. (Photo/Xinhua)
Since its humble beginning as the Shanghai Five, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is growing in stature as a regional political and economic organization.
Created for confidence building measures between Russia, China and the Central Asian states, the SCO has been very successful in reducing regional tension and ensuring peace and stability in Asia. With the growing threats of terrorism, the member states work together to contain the scourge of terrorism spreading into the respective countries.
The original conceptualization of this security organization grew out of a necessity. The plan was to lower tension and to build trust, to provide a formal framework for consultation and cooperation in security matters, it has expanded its role to cooperation and mutual support in the international arena for its member states. The fact that many countries are lining up to join this low key regional organization signifies its recognition and acceptance as a valued organization.
Uzbekistan was added to the original Shanghai Five of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 2001. This year, India and Pakistan were accepted as the two new members. Many Asian states have applied and been accepted as 'observers' and 'dialogue partners'. The USA also applied to be an observer (a prerequisite to become a full member) but was rejected in 2005.
The security of Asia, to remain as a unified region free from conflict and warfare, depends a great deal to an organization like the SCO. Smaller Asian countries need a security umbrella to protect them from big powers. It is of utmost importance that the SCO sew up this tapestry with more Asian members, to keep them together and not be divided and be at odds with each other. A divided Asia will provide the cracks needed for unfriendly forces to exploit and to engage in sowing conflicts. With more Asian countries showing interest to be a member of SCO, it shows these countries seek peace and stability in Asia. They seek security and protection that the SCO can provide them.
Asia must remain united as a region free from war. The SCO proves to be a dependable and indispensable stabilizing role. They must seize the moment to sew up more Asian states into its tapestry to keep them stitched together as parts of Asia, a united Asia where peace prevails.
The author, Chua Chin Leng, is a political observer from Singapore.