China says India, Pakistan should mend ties after joining Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
China said on Thursday India and Pakistan should improve their ties and “uphold” the spirit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) after becoming its members later this month.
India and Pakistan are slated to become members of the SCO, a regional security bloc led by Beijing, at the group’s summit in Astana in Kazakhstan later this month. This is the first time since its launch in 2001 it will expand its membership.
A flag-raising ceremony is scheduled to take place at the SCO headquarters in Beijing on June 15 to mark the new admissions.
The group’s current members are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Until now, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan were observers while Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka were dialogue partners.
“Hope India and Pakistan strictly follow the charter of the SCO and the idea of good neighbourliness, uphold the SCO spirit, improve their relations and inject new impetus to the development of the SCO,” Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) said on Thursday at the regular ministry briefing.
Hua was referring to the unease among the original member countries about the inclusion of the two because of the state of ties between India and Pakistan.
Observers here feel that after the inclusion of the two countries, the SCO could face a rocky diplomatic path ahead, given New Delhi and Islamabad’s hostilities over issues such as Kashmir, terrorism and the path to peace in Afghanistan.
“The hostility between the two states is unlikely to be dispelled in the short time. Together with their complicated relations with China and Russia, analysts believe their admission may have negative effects on the SCO, bringing more internal conflicts and lowering the level of mutual political trust and the efficiency of multilateral cooperation,” Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of CASS’s SCO Research Centre, had written in the state media last year.
There are positives as well.
“The scope of the group will be expanded from China, Russia, and Central Asian countries to South Asia, covering over 60% of Eurasia. In addition, more opportunities will be brought to the SCO,” Sun wrote. It was at the SCO summit in Ufa in Russia in 2015 that the founding members launched the process to accept the membership of India and Pakistan.
“The member states of the SCO are accelerating the procedures with the two countries and everything is going very well,” Hua said.
“We hope India and Pakistan (will join) as full members at the Astana summit. We also expect the Astana summit will complete the admission procedures for the two countries,” Hua said.
“Now the member states of the SCO are accelerating the legal processes. Everything is going on smoothly. Now, the SCO will complete the first membership expansion since its establishment. It will become a regional organisation with largest coverage involving the biggest population (in the world),” she said.