Expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
China has actively pursued the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian political, economic, and international security entity.
Established in 2001 by Russia, China, and former Soviet states, the organization serves as a counterbalance to Western influence in the region.
The SCO, formed with objectives such as combating terrorism, promoting border security, strengthening political ties, and expanding economic cooperation, initially included China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
|🇦🇿 Azerbaijan||Dialogue Partner||2016|
|🇦🇲 Armenia||Dialogue Partner||2016|
|🇧🇭 Bahrain||Dialogue Partner||2023|
|🇪🇬 Egypt||Dialogue Partner||2022|
|🇰🇭 Cambodia||Dialogue Partner||2015|
|🇶🇦 Qatar||Dialogue Partner||2022|
|🇰🇼 Kuwait||Dialogue Partner||2023|
|🇲🇻 Maldives||Dialogue Partner||2023|
|🇲🇲 Myanmar||Dialogue Partner||2023|
|🇳🇵 Nepal||Dialogue Partner||2016|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||Dialogue Partner||2023|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||Dialogue Partner||2022|
|🇹🇷 Turkey||Dialogue Partner||2013|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||Dialogue Partner||2010|
In 2002, member states ratified the organization statute to encourage political, trade, economic, technological, cultural, and educational collaboration.
Since then, the organization has undertaken over 20 large-scale projects related to transportation, energy, and telecommunications. A notable initiative is China’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to rebuild the Silk Road and connect China to Asia, Europe, and beyond through significant infrastructure investments.
The organization has also expanded its geopolitical influence. It attained observer status in the UN General Assembly in 2005 and gave Afghanistan observer status in 2012. Currently, it is working with the interim Taliban administration to include Afghan representatives in its future meetings.
India and Pakistan officially became members of the SCO in 2017, and Iran is in the process of obtaining full-time membership. Egypt and Qatar are dialogue partners, and Saudi Arabia, a traditional U.S. ally, has taken steps to join. Belarus is set to become a member in 2024 after signing a memorandum of obligations.
Furthermore, the organization also plays a crucial role in Chinese military ambitions.
In 2007, the SCO signed an agreement outlining the legal rights and responsibilities for military exercises in another member country.
The agreement allows Chinese armed forces to engage in air-ground combat operations abroad, covering activities like long-distance mobilization, counterterrorism missions, stability maintenance operations, and conventional warfare.
Military presence is particularly important for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which fears that separatist movements in the Uyghur-dominated autonomous region of Xinjiang could gain support from other Central Asian states.
Implications for the United States
Today, the SCO encompasses 42% of the global population and 32% of the global GDP.
Due to its growing influence, U.S. policymakers have been monitoring the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In a 2020 report to the U.S. Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission highlighted that through the SCO, China is establishing diplomatic relationships and expeditionary capabilities that could support power projection beyond its borders.
According to the document, “there is a significant risk that Beijing may leverage its relationships with SCO countries to limit the ability of U.S. armed forces to operate in Central Asia.”
Nonetheless, the same report mentions that the SCO could serve as a beneficial tool for Central Asian states, offering a platform for cooperation and presenting an alternative to potential domination by Russia, particularly in areas such as energy.
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
In this visualization, we look at how international recognition of Israel and Palestine breaks down among the 193 UN member states.
Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
The modern-day conflict between Israel and Palestine emerged from the British Mandate for Palestine, which administered the former Ottoman Empire territory after World War I. But even after 75 years—and declarations of independence from each side—universal recognition eludes them.
In this visualization, we look at how Israel and Palestine recognition breaks down among the 193 UN member states as of November 14, 2023, using Wikpedia data for each state.
A Declaration of Independence
The Jewish People’s Council declared the foundation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (the same day that the last British forces left Haifa) on the basis of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which divided the Mandate territories between Jewish and Arab populations.
U.S. President Truman granted de-facto recognition 11 minutes after the Israeli declaration. Not to be outdone by their Cold War adversary, the U.S.S.R. followed suit three days later with de-jure recognition and was joined by Warsaw Pact allies Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland.
By the end of 1948, 21 countries recognized Israel.
A Second Declaration of Independence
A declaration of independence for the State of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, didn’t happen until 40 years later.
In the midst of the First Intifada, a five-year-long Palestinian uprising that began in 1987, the Palestine Liberation Organization proclaimed the new state in the city of Algiers on November 15, 1988.
A dozen countries, including 10 members of the Arab League along with Malaysia and Yemen, immediately recognized the new state. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and most of the Muslim world also joined in recognizing the State of Palestine.
Recognition of Israel and Palestine by Country
As of November 2023, 163 UN member states have recognized Israel, while 138 have recognized Palestine.
|UN Member State||Recognize Israel 🇮🇱||Recognize Palestine 🇵🇸|
|🇦🇬||Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||Yes|
|🇧🇦||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇫||Central African Republic||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇩||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇫🇲||Federated States of Micronesia||Yes||No|
|🇵🇬||Papua New Guinea||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇬||Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇰🇳||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Yes||Yes|
|🇻🇨||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Yes||Yes|
|🇸🇹||São Tomé and Príncipe||Yes||Yes|
|🇹🇹||Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No|
|🇦🇪||United Arab Emirates||Yes||Yes|
Most of the countries that do not currently recognize Israel are Muslim-majority countries. However, some Muslim-majority countries have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, who specifically agreed to do so under peace treaties signed in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
Several conflicts have also resulted in some countries suspending relations with Israel. The 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars (also called the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, respectively) all saw countries suspend diplomatic relations, including Mali and the Maldives. In the case of Eastern Bloc countries that did so in 1967 and 1973, many resumed relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.
On the other side, despite more countries recognizing the State of Palestine over time, none of the G7 and only nine of the G20 have recognized the state. Similarly, only a minority of the EU has endorsed the declaration.
Israel and Palestine continue to vie for recognition in the international arena, with the former gaining recognition from a few countries including Bhutan and the UAE in 2020, and the latter from Colombia in 2018 and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2019.
But universal recognition continues to elude both sides, with many countries awaiting a formal resolution to the conflict from the two sides.
It’s worth noting that both Israel and Palestine took steps towards recognition under the Oslo Accords, signed on September 13, 1993. The agreement saw Palestine recognize the State of Israel, put an end to the First Intifada, and allowed for limited self-government under a new Palestinian National Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. It promised to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution; a promise of peace that has yet to be realized.
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