One barometer of Russo-Chinese relations is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a loose association of Russia, China and Central Asian states. The SCO was the “Shanghai Five” until last June, when Uzbekistan joined Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as members, and Russia and China set out to turn the group into a collective security system that could prevent any Western military penetration of post-Soviet space.
But the SCO had no role at all when Central Asian nations scurried to stake out positions after the September 11 attacks. Uzbekistan and then Tajikistan opened facilities to United States and other Western forces attacking the Taliban across the Afghan border. Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, which do not border on Afghanistan, later offered overflight and landing rights. Vladimir Putin went to Texas and made oh, so nice. The SCO went into cardiac arrest.
But at a January 7 session in Beijing, Russia and China gave collective security a diplomatic shot of epinephrine. The SCO countries signed on to a tour-de-force communiqué that managed to discuss the September 11 attacks at length without mentioning the United States of America. The attacks against the [nameless place] should be avenged by the “international community” with “the United Nations and its Security Council” in the lead. The communiqué lays out a case for getting the Americans out of Central Asia as quickly as possible.
But international avengers should know their place. “Antiterrorism actions should not lead to interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries,” the SCO explained. The “United Nations and its Security Council” have nothing to do with combating terrorism or whatever is causing trouble in Chechnya or China’s Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region. Global sauce for your goose, sovereign sauce for our gander.