China and Russia: The Gendarmes of Eurasia

Stephen Blank, a professor at the US Army War College, argues at EurasiaNet.org that recent protests in and around Tibet provide a “repression blueprint” to other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Group. “It is possible to view the SCO, given its dedication to propping up the authoritarian order in ,” Blank says, “as a present-day analogue to the Holy Alliance — the 19th century entente in which Russia, Austria and Prussia dedicated themselves to the maintaining Europe’s then autocratic order.”:

Chinese leaders have interpreted developments in Tibet in a way that can classify the Tibetan protesters as secessionists. Such a definition in theory enables China to invoke a provision in the (SCO) charter, under which it can summon aid from other members in order to deal with the security threat. China, of course, is unlikely to issue such a call for assistance. Even so, other SCO members have quickly come to Beijing’s defense.

Russia has been the most prominent supporter of China’s actions in Tibet. On March 17, Moscow applauded China’s determined effort to suppress “unlawful actions” in the autonomous region. The next day, in an article published in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that the unrest in Tibet was linked to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. “There are grounds to believe that all this happens not by chance,” Lavrov said. …

There is good reason to believe that if unrest breaks out in Central Asia — whether it is connected to a rigged election, an unexpected succession or the implosion of the economy — the Chinese crackdown in Tibet can provide a repression blueprint.

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