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America After the BRICS and SCO Summits

Aug 12 , 2015
  • Yu Sui

    Professor, China Center for Contemporary World Studies

The summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have just concluded. Amid praise, there have also been comments to the effect that the two summits are at odds with US interests. However, there is actually much room for cooperation between the US and these two organizations.

The BRICS and SCO summits had a dual focus of economy and security — aimed at enhancing cooperation among BRICS countries, deepening SCO development, advancing the Silk Road initiatives and safeguarding the results of victory in World War II. In other words, the purposes and results of the two summits do not harm American interests.

All five BRICS members have normal or even friendly relations with the US except Russia, whose relationship with the US has been bumpy but not irreconcilable. On 10 July US Secretary of State Kerry very objectively stated his disagreement with the assessment of Russia as an actual threat to American national security. Now under economic downturn pressure caused by slow global growth, the BRICS set the summit theme as “BRICS partnership: A powerful factor for global development” in an endeavor to create a new global development partnership so that the results of development will benefit all parts of the world in an equitable manner. That will of course also benefit the US.

The launch of the New Development Bank (NDB) was an important item on the summit agenda. It was decided that NDB would fully operate with the first batch of projects starting towards the end of the year. The NDB will not only provide financial support for the development of BRICS and other emerging markets but also drive global economic and financial governance reform. Various procedures have been completed for the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), strengthening the bonds of interests among them and adding a new layer to the global financial safety net. As both NDB and CRA function globally, they are naturally relevant to American interests.


Furthermore, all BRICS countries are members of G20 alongside the US. The cross-connection and the blending of various regional cooperation organizations are beneficial to economically complementarys.

The SCO observes the “Shanghai Spirit” of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development. Security is the primary concern of the SCO. The summit approved the Outline of Cooperation in the Fight Against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2016-2018, including early efforts to draft an anti-extremism convention and accelerated work towards the establishment of a center dealing with security threats and challenges, which actually fits with America’s vision. Moreover, substantive progress has been made recently on the Iranian nuclear issue. China and Russia, both SCO members, had worked very well with the US in the negotiations.

On the economic front, the summit approved the SCO Development Strategy until 2025. At both summits, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that the Silk Road initiatives are open, inclusive and poised to support strategic development plans of relevant countries. Naturally the new Silk Road proposed by the US comes to mind.

The US adopted a Silk Road strategy as early as in 1999 and updated it in 2006. In July 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defined in Chennai, India, again a new Silk Road of extensive regional transport and economic networks in Central Asia and South Asia with Afghanistan at the center. American think tanks have also proposed to link the new Silk Road strategy with the transportation network in the north from the Baltic to Afghanistan through Central Asia and even to extend it to Southeast Asia. There is certain overlapping between China’s Silk Road Economic Belt proposal and the American strategy. China and the US have jointly taken part in some regional cooperation mechanisms and projects, which could be of use to both countries’ initiatives. As such there is also room for cooperation.

The SCO summit also issued a statement on the 70th anniversary of the World Anti-Fascist War and World War II. The international community is now looking forward to the commemorations China has planned for early September. For the US, an ally in World War II, it is natural to join the commemorations.

China is a member of both BRICS and SCO, the initiator of the Silk Road initiatives and the advocate of a new model of major-power relations with the US. As such it may help bridge the two organizations and the US for better communication and cooperation. This will become apparent during President Xi’s state visit to the US in coming September.

On July 17, the Huffington Post published an article on Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging U.S.-China Rivalry, a new book by Professor Lyle Goldstein of the U.S. Naval War College. It pointed out that, as China rises peacefully, the US will have no feasible choice other than meeting China halfway.

In conclusion, neither the intent nor the results of the BRICS and SCO summits are designed to exclude the US. Rather, the summits have drawn blueprints for communication and cooperation with Washington.

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