China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: history of involvement and interests


  • Araz Mursaliev Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation



China, Foreign Policy, Shanghai Cooperation Organization , Russia, International Relations


Recent developments on the global arena, such as the deterioration of the relations between the United States (US) from one side, and Russia and China from the other, Russian-Chinese rapprochement after the Ukrainian crisis, open up a new discussion on the international organizations in Eurasia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established with the aim to fight against “three evils”: terrorism, separatism and extremism. Throughout the years it has shown its efficacy but lacked significant development in terms of evolution. Economic cooperation was stalled by the Russian stance, that was against the Chinese dominance in the Central Asian region. This led to the establishment of new economic entities such as Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Belt and Road Initiative. The issue of horizontal expansion was banned until the mid-2010s when Russia and China agreed to grant membership simultaneously to India and Pakistan. The aim of this article is to analyse Chinese foreign policy in the SCO and to find its interests and motive forces and the current relation to the organization.





Metrics Loading ...


Alimov R. 2020 The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Development of Eurasia. In: Lukin A. (eds) The “Roads” and “Belts” of Eurasia. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.

Allison R. 2018. Protective Integration and Security Policy Coordination: Comparing the SCO and CSTO. The Chinese Journal of International Politics 11(3) 297–338. DOI:10.1093/cjip/poy008

Denisov, I.; Fenghua, L. 2018. Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era. Results of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and of the Russian Presidential Election. Russian International Affairs Council. Retrieved from

Denisov, I. E. and Safranchuk, I. A. 2016. Four Problems of the SCO in Connection with Its Enlargement. Russian Politics & Law, 54(5–6): 494–515. DOI: 10.1080/10611940.2016.1296304

Memorandum of the first meeting of the Heads of Government of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. 2001. Available at:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 2001. Economic Cooperation Program for China. Available at:

Naarajärvi, T. 2012. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: blessing or curse for new regionalism in Central Asia? Asia Europe Journal, 10, 113–126. DOI: 10.1007/s10308-012-0329-z

Na-Xi, L.; Meng-Fang, H.; Shan-Bing, L. 2019. How the Belt and Road Initiative Can Help Strengthen the Role of the SCO and Deepen China’s Cooperation with Russia and the Countries of Central Asia. India Quarterly, 75(1), 56–68, DOI: 10.1177/0974928418821484

Qiang, Liu. (2015). Common interests of china and Russia in the shanghai cooperation organization. Historical and social educational idea’s. Vol. 7 №1. Pp. 69-72.

Qiu, H. 2010. International system and China’s Asia-Pacific strategy. Contemporary International Relations. 20(1): 50–73. Available at

Sheives, K. 2006. China turns West: Beijing’s contemporary strategy towards Central Asia. Pacific Affairs. 79(2): 205–224. DOI:10.2307/40022689

Song W. 2014. Interests, Power and China's Difficult Game in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Journal of Contemporary China, 23(85), 85-101, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2013.809981

The Global Competitiveness Index 2014–2015. 2014. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from

Valday Club. Russian-Chinese seminar “Russia and China in a new international environment”. 2009. Transcript published by Foreign and Defense Policy Council. Retrieved from

Wu, G.; Lansdowne, H. 2008. China turns to multilateralism: Foreign policy and regional security. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415666466. P.

Xie, Z. 2011. The rise of China and its growing role in international organizations. ICCS Journal of Modern Chinese Studies. 2011, 4(1): 85-96. Available at

Yun, Y. and Park, K. 2012. An Analysis of the Multilateral Cooperation and Competition between Russia and China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Issues and Prospects. Pacific Focus, 27, 62-85. DOI:10.1111/j.1976-5118.2012.01076.x

Zhao, H. 2003. Novaya situatsiya v Tsentral’noy Azii i Shanhaiskaya Organizatsiya Sotrudnichestva (The new situation in Central Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization). In Situatsiya v Tsentral’noy Azii i Shanhaiskaya Organizatsiya Sotrudnichestva (The situation in Central Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), Conference proceedings (Shanghai, Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Zhao, H. 2008. China’s diplomacy in Central Asia. Beijing: Shishi chubanshe

Zhao, H. 2013. China’s View of and Expectations from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Asian Survey. 53 (3): 436–460. DOI 10.1525/as.2013.53.3.436

Zhao, H. 2015. Sino-Russian Economic Cooperation in the Far East and Central Asia since 2012. Eurasia Border Review. 6(1): 103-121.