(Newsweek) This month, as Newsweek goes to print, an international organisation all but unknown in the West is set to announce that its membership will soon include countries representing half the world's population. If the hopes of its leading backers – particularly Russia – are realised, the 15th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Russian city of Ufa will mark the moment when this previously obscure body starts to demand much closer attention from the West.
The SCO's plan is to invite India and Pakistan to apply formally to take their place alongside Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as full members. […]
"The main thing to recognise about the SCO is that there are fundamental disagreements between Russia and China over the organisation's purpose and scope," says Alexander Cooley, author of Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest for Central Asia and Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, New York. "The Russians basically see the SCO as one of a number of institutions that they hope will develop a revisionist agenda against the West and against US influence."
"Every economic proposal that the Chinese have offered, the Russians have considered, delayed and then mostly rejected," says Cooley. "The Russians are uncomfortable with institutionalising China's growing economic dominance of the region and instead they want to promote their own economic architecture, the Eurasian Economic Union."
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