Chapter 10: Contesting East Asian Security Leadership: China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Neil Renwick 1. INTRODUCTION Leadership in contemporary global systems is exciting a great deal of interest as the early decades of the twenty-ﬁrst century appear to be laying the foundations for a major ‘power shift’ in the global political system centred upon a ‘rising’ China. The perception is of an emergent transition from a global system – either ‘unipolar’ or ‘hegemonic’ depending upon theoretical taste – led by the United States to one eventually led by China, depending upon interpretation. For those for whom this scenario is a foregone conclusion, debate is intense over the implications of this global shift in terms of structural power distribution, systemic processes, and particularly the character of global leadership. For those with a more sanguine outlook, the initial focus of interest regarding the leadership impact of China’s rise should be that of the immediate neighbourhood. Clearly there are major global reverberations of a ‘rising’ China. The central question is how systemic transition is managed. But perhaps some of the answers may be found at present rather less in the relatively opaqueness of ‘macro’ political relations and rather more in ‘micro’ bilateral and multilateral regional relations. In this sense, leadership in the context of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) derives from the nature of the problems being addressed: the challenges of economic development, separatism and terrorism shared by the organization’s membership rather than from leadership in the sense of preponderance of directive power and inﬂuence. The twin problematics of development and security require multiple partners...
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