Speaking to the Voice of America, Carnegie’s Evan Feigenbaum explained why the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is likely to become weaker, less coherent, and more diffuse as it expands to include India and Pakistan and potentially other partners in future. He argued that all such institutions weaken when form begins to drive function rather than the other way around. That has been the experience across Asia since the end of the Cold War. Feigenbaum explored the origin of the SCO in a single, focused function: the settlement of border and territorial disputes among China and four Central Asian neighbors. As it has grown to include Uzbekistan and various observers and dialogue partners, the SCO has lost focus and become less functional.
Beyond the SCO itself, Feigenbaum also discussed motivations and drivers for Chinese and Indian strategies and policies in Central Asia. And he reflected on some aspects of the U.S. experience with the SCO from his tenure as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the region during the George W. Bush administration.