The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: Powerhouse or Paper Tiger?


  • Ingmar Oldberg

Publish date: 2007-08-22

Report number: FOI-R--2301--SE

Pages: 59

Written in: English


  • Ryssland
  • Kina
  • Centralasien
  • Indien
  • Pakistan
  • Iran
  • Afghanistan
  • USA
  • utrikespolitik
  • militärt samarbete
  • terrorism
  • energi
  • utvidgning
  • Russia
  • China
  • Central Asia
  • India
  • foreign policy
  • security
  • military cooperation
  • energy
  • enlargement


The SCO cannot be regarded as a military alliance posing a threat for example to NATO as it does not oblige the members to collective defence and does not dispose of military forces. The organisation is still quite new and has limited economic resources at its disposal. However, the organisationhas shown flexiblity and adaptiveness by its rapid growth, the creation of new institutions and a broadening agenda. It serves as a useful forum, where the states can promote cooperation, also bilateral, and discuss differences. It has helped to preckude conflicts among the members and promoted cooperation against trans-national terrorism. Russia and China have tried to use the SCO as a means to keep external powers out of Central Asia. For Russia it is also a forum for checking Chinese cooperation with the Central Asian states, while maintaining its own predominance in other ways. For China , the most interested party, the SCO legitimized ties with the Central Asian states not existing before and through which it can project its growing economic strength. For the Central Asian members the SCO helps to underpin their independence by giving them an equal voice with Russia and China as well as vetoing powers, while not preventing ties with the West. The SCO members seem unwilling to extend membership in the observers India, Oakistan and Iran, because that might involve them in external conflicts and disturb their relations with Western powers.