China Stupid if It Started a Border War with India


A man walks inside a conference room used for meetings between military commanders of China and India, at the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

Reuters says in its report “India’s military steps up operational readiness on China border” yesterday that according to its sources, “India’s military has increased operational readiness along the eastern Indian border with China, sources said, as neither side shows any sign of backing off from a face-off in a remote Himalayan region near their disputed frontier.” However, the sources did not expect that the border tension would escalate into a border war.

That has been confirmed by Reuters’ other two sources, which told Reuters that “the military alert level had been raised as a matter of caution”.

India does not want to fight. It only wants to provoke China to attack it so that it can get more from the US.

China has become “iron buddy” of India’s major enemy Pakistan and is now building its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that it regards as a priority project in China’s Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road) initiative.

The project aims at establishing China’s secure land access to the Middle East especially the oil and gas there, but is regarded by India as a great threat to India’s security as India is sandwiched between China and Pakistan.

India’s conspicuous absence at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s grand Belt and Road meeting gave China a clear signal.

India’s counter measure to deal with its encirclement by China and Pakistan on land is to encircle China and Pakistan on the Indian Ocean, for which it needs the US and Japan as its allies.

China is far from capable enough to deal with the combined navies of the US, Japan and India. It has to develop aerospace bombers to wipe out such navy and dominate the ocean. That takes time.

Even if China is strong enough, it shall not have enemy in its neighborhood. It has to win over Japan by making it believe that China will not retaliate Japanese invasion.

It shall also convince India that China want to be its friend.

China has even been able to turn its long-term enemy Russia into its close ally. Why shall China not be able to win over India?

In fact, India may get lots of benefit from its friendly relations with China. What can India get from the US? US protectionism will make India’s export of elite labor and cheap goods hard since the US is now making efforts to bring jobs back. Protectionism will keep on growing as the US keeps on declining.

True, India may obtain advanced weapons from the US to deal with China, but US weapons are so expensive!

Strategic Goal

A modern war is fought for achieving a political goal which we regard as the strategic goal of a war. A country is a loser in the war if it wins the war without attaining its strategic goal but it is the winner if it attains its strategic goal even though it loses the war.

From that we see Indian Prime Minister Modi’s shrewdness. He knows well that India army is no match to Chinese army but he provoked China to fight and win a war with India so that he may attain the goal of developing close alliance with the US and Japan to counter-encircle China and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean.

China’s strategic goal must be resolution of its border dispute with India to turn India into its friend instead of enemy. China has been making great efforts in doing so. What can China attain even if it wins a border war with India now? It will turn India into its dead enemy if the war is a large-scale one like the countless border wars between France and Germany that gave rise to the two world wars.

France and Germany are finally wise enough to become allies in establishing the EU. Why shall China and India not learn from their wise examples?

Therefore, we can foresee no war but a few small-scale skirmishes in the border. After all the area of standoff is so small that cannot be the battleground for a war with some scale.

China and Russia have succeeded in attracting both India and Pakistan into their Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). China shall make great efforts in putting an end to the enmity between India and Pakistan and resolving border disputes with India within SCO with Russia’s help. That is the wise strategic goal China must attain but impossible through a war.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which is reblogged below:

India’s military steps up operational readiness on China border

Sanjeev Miglani August 11, 2017 / 8:36 PM

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s military has increased operational readiness along the eastern Indian border with China, sources said, as neither side shows any sign of backing off from a face-off in a remote Himalayan region near their disputed frontier.

Indian and Chinese troops have been embroiled in the seven-week confrontation on the Doklam plateau, claimed by both China and India’s tiny ally, Bhutan.

The sources, who were briefed on the deployment, said they did not expect the tensions, involving about 300 soldiers on each side standing a few hundred feet apart, to escalate into a conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.

But the military alert level had been raised as a matter of caution, two sources in New Delhi and in the eastern state of Sikkim told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The crisis began in June when a Chinese construction crew was found to be trying to extend a road in the Doklam region that both China and the mountainous nation of Bhutan claim as theirs.

India, which has special ties with Bhutan, sent its troops to stop the construction, igniting anger in Beijing which said New Delhi had no business to intervene, and demanded a unilateral troop withdrawal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, though, has dug in its heels and said that the Chinese road activity in the region near the borders of India, Bhutan and China was a threat to the security of its own northeast region.

“The army has moved to a state that is called ‘no war, no peace’,” one of the sources said. Under the order issued to all troop formations in the eastern command a week ago, soldiers are supposed take up positions that are earmarked for them in the event of a war, the source said.

Each year, Indian troop formations deployed on the border go on such an “operational alert” usually in September and October. But this year the activity has been advanced in the eastern sector, the source in Sikkim, above which lies the area of the current standoff, said.

“Its out of caution. It has been done because of the situation,” the source said. But the source stressed there was no additional force deployment and that the area was well defended.

The move comes as diplomatic efforts to break the stalemate failed to make headway, other sources with close ties to the Modi government told Reuters earlier in the week.

China has repeatedly warned of an escalation if India did not order its troops back. The state-controlled Global Times which has kept a barrage of hostile commentary said this week that if Modi continued the present course in the border, Beijing would have to take “counter-measures”.

Ties between the neighbors have been souring over China’s military assistance to India’s arch rival Pakistan and its expanding presence in smaller nations in South Asia which New Delhi long regarded as its area of influence.

China has criticized the Modi government’s public embrace of the Dalai Lama and its decision to let the Tibetan spiritual leader, whom it regards as a “dangerous splittist”, to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as its own.

China has also frowned at India’s expanding military ties with the United States as well as Japan.

Additional reporting by Zarir Hussain in GUWAHATI; Editing by Nick Macfie


China-Russia Cold War Camp Prevails while Western Camp Disintegrating


A vessel belonging to a Chinese naval group docks at the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas last Wednesday. Photo: Handout

I have quite a few posts on the emergence of the new Cold War between Russia-China autocratic camp and Western democratic camp consisting of US, EU and Japan.

There has been much media talks about the US losing Asia, which in facts means US losing Southeast Asia.

Previously US was Asian leader but in East Asia consisting of Japan and South Korea and in Southeast Asia, the ASEAN.

Now, the US has lost ASEAN due to ASEAN’s economic dependence on China and US military’s failure to protect Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea.

In recent Shangri-la Dialogue, only the US, Japan and Australia criticized Chinese moves in the South China Sea, but ASEAN remained silent. Some ASEAN members have contending claims against China but they prefer silence as they know that they will suffer in confronting China as the US will not and is unable to help them either economically or militarily.

Western media blames Trump for that. However, US losses were caused by Obama administration’s failures.

First, US pivot to Asia aimed at containing China gave Russia the impression that the US was also containing Russia when Putin was making great efforts to improve Russia-US relations.

Obama thus gave China the opportunity to win over Russia, China’s historical enemy.

Unexpectedly, Russia has become China’s close ally as China can be the largest market for Russia’s natural resources especially oil and gas. The US, however has greatly reduced its import of energy even from the Middle East let alone Russia as it has developed the technology to extract gas from shale. China has also been able to provide Russia with funds for Russia’s development.

Certainly, the alliance is first of all political as they have to combine forces in resisting the US.

Being strategy illiterate, US politicians and military intensified pressure on both China and Russia respectively in the South China Sea and Ukraine. That has turned China and Russia into close allies and their Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) into their new Cold War camp against the Western camp led by the US.

SCO’s recent expansion to include Pakistan and India has made the China-Russia camp much stronger. Now it seems that SCO will soon accept Iran as its new member as Iran has been applying to join SCO.

SCMP’s report today “China and Iran held a joint naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf amid rising tension in the region” shows China and Iran’s joint efforts in developing military ties.

The report says “the drill on Sunday included an Iranian warship and two Chinese destroyers, a logistics ship and one helicopter.”

The timing of the drill is especially important as SCMP says that it was carried out “amid heightened tension between Iranian and US warships in the Gulf. Washington has accused Iran of sending fast-attack boats to harass US warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The US Navy also held a drill with Qatar on Saturday.”

In fact, close relations with Iran will enable China to have a new Silk Road through Pakistan to Iran for secure export of Iranian oil and gas to China. As India, Pakistan and potentially Iran are all SCO members, there is possibility for Iran to export oil to India safely through Pakistan.

The great economic interests will make China and Pakistan Iran’s close military allies in countering the US and protecting China’s trade sea route from Pakistan to the Middle East.

On the other hand, Trump’s “America first” has given rise to serious split between EU and the US while his scrap of TPP and improvement of US ties with China has made the US Japan’s fierce competitor in China’s huge market.

US-EU-Japan Cold War camp is disintegrating while China-Russia camp is growing larger and stronger.

American world leadership? In the new Cold War, America cannot even lead its Western camp.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2098898/china-and-iran-carry-out-naval-exercise-near-strait.


Expanded China-, Russia-led SCO Stronger than Split EU, US


Flags of members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation at the venue of one of the group’s past meetings. Aside from the accession to full membership of India and Pakistan, the group’s next meeting is expected to debate Iran’s membership. Photo: Xinhua

China wants SCO (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization) to counter the US, but Russia wants it to counter not only the US but also EU, i.e. making it the eastern camp to counter the Western camp of EU and US.

SCMP says in its report “Security trumps rivalry as India, Pakistan to join China-led regional bloc” yesterday that India and Pakistan will both be admitted into SCO. SCMP’s report regards SCO as China-led. That is natural as lots of media and politicians believe that the rising China will take over world leadership from declining US let alone SCO leadership.

In fact, as neither Russia nor China wants to be SCO’s sole leader, SCO is led by both China and Russia. That’s something unbelievable!

We all know that only one tiger rules a mountain and that it is impossible for two tigers to cooperate in ruling one mountain. However, that is for tigers. Human beings must be wiser. However, the Thucydides trap precisely reflects human beings’ tiger mentality.

No, tigers are wise, but human beings are stupid!

When there are two tigers in a mountain, they do not fight for dominance, let alone killing one another. One of them simply leaves and goes to rule another mountain.

The Thucydides trap is entirely human. It has given rise to the cruelest wars and massive killing. The death toll in one of the world war due to the trap exceeded 10 millions.

We should say Russian leader Putin and Chinese leader Xi are both exceptionally wise so that there can be two leaders in SCO. It is really exceptional.

However, there will soon be something even more exceptional: India and Pakistan the two archenemies will join the same organization for cooperation.

The report points out the trouble China will face in dealing with India-Pakistan hostility and China-India rivalry.

It forgets SCO’s another leader Putin. If Russia had not been one of the leaders, how could SCO have attracted India in the first place when India’s archenemy Pakistan wants to join at the same time while one of SCO’s leaders is India’s rival China?

Putin will help Xi deal with those issues.

Moreover, we shall not underestimate India and Pakistan’s leaders’ wisdom. Their participation in the same organization of cooperation precisely proves their wise intention to bury hatchets. It will be very tricky but the benefits for both countries will be terrifically great. The ease of tension between India and Pakistan will enable both of them to transfer lots of their resources to the funding of their economic development.

Just imagine, how tremendously great the benefit a pipeline linking Iran and India through Pakistan will bring to India! I believe that the two countries will overcome their hostility through SCO rather than splitting SCO due to the hostility and rivalry.

The report says that SCO will consider admitting Iran into the organization. An expanded SCO with the addition of two South Asian powers will enable SCO to counter the Western camp which is splitting due to Trump’s dissatisfaction with NATO and Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Taking Iran into SCO will make the eastern camp centered on SCO much more powerful than the Western camp.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2096913/india-pakistan-set-join-china-led-security-group.


China says would consider Turkish membership of security bloc


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a signing ceremony with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a signing ceremony with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

China said on Monday it was willing to consider any application from NATO-member Turkey to join a Russian and Chinese-led security bloc, after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his country could join.

China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Turkey was already a “dialogue partner” of the regional bloc and had for a long time closely cooperated with it.

China attached great importance to Turkey’s wish to strengthen that cooperation, he told a news briefing.

“We are willing, together with other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and in accordance with the rules of its legal documents, to seriously study it on the basis of consensus consultation,” Geng added, without elaborating.

Erdogan was quoted on Sunday as saying that Turkey did not need to join the European Union “at all costs” and could instead become part of the SCO.

Turkish government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday that closer ties with the SCO would not mean Turkey turning its back on other allies.

“Turkey, with its history, culture, geopolitics and potential, is one of the few countries in the world that can cooperate with every corner of the world simultaneously,” he told a news conference in the capital Ankara.

“A step taken (with the SCO) does not mean it will end Turkey’s relations with another country.”

Turkish membership of the bloc would nonetheless be likely to alarm Western allies and fellow NATO members.

Having long been critical of Turkey’s record on democratic freedoms, European leaders have been alarmed by Erdogan’s crackdown on opponents since a failed coup attempt in July, and Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever after 11 years of negotiations.

The EU is treading a fine line as it needs Turkey’s help in curbing a huge flow of migrants, especially from Syria, while Ankara has grown increasingly exasperated by what it sees as Western condescension.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages, and Ankara signed up in 2013 as a “dialogue partner” saying it shared “the same destiny” as members of the bloc.

Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are observers, while Belarus, like Turkey, is a dialogue partner.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Andrew Roche)

Source: Reuters “China says would consider Turkish membership of security bloc”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Disappointed with Alliance with US, Philippine Will Try Russia, China


Premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, as Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, watches during the 19th Asean-China summit, in Vientiane, Laos, on September 7. Photo: AP

Premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, as Laos’ Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, watches during the 19th Asean-China summit, in Vientiane, Laos, on September 7. Photo: AP

Believing in Philippines’ alliance with the US, the only superpower in the world, former Philippine President Aquino started to ban fishing by Chinese fishermen at disputed Scarborough shoal and thus started Philippines’ Scarborough standoff with China.

However, US navy took no actions to help US ally the Philippines in the standoff. Instead, the US told the Philippines to retreat and promised to make China retreat too. The Philippines has retreated, but China would not. China took full control of the shoal. In retaliation, it bans fishing by Philippine fishermen there.

The US tells the Philippines to file arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to restore its fishing and other rights and supported the arbitration all along. The Philippines has indeed won the arbitration, but the US fails to help it enforce the arbitration award. As a result, Philippine fishermen continue to have no access to their traditional fishing ground that they rely for their survival.

They must be allowed to fish there as they had been fishing there for generations. Since China wants others to respect its historical rights and interests, it shall also respect others’ historical rights and interests, to be more specific, Philippine fishermen’s historical fishing rights in the disputed area.

SCMP says in its report “South China Sea fishing rights at top of Philippine president’s agenda in Beijing” today, “Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to discuss crisis management and fishing rights in the disputed South China Sea when he visits Beijing next month.”

The standoff has caused Chinese coast guard ships to patrol the fishing ground and deny Philippine fishermen access to the area.

What is much more serious is the combat patrol by Chinese fighter jets and bombers of the fishing ground due to Hague ruling. There may be military conflict if the Philippines tries to break into the disputed fishing ground.

Therefore, there shall first of all be crisis management and then permission to allow Philippine fishermen to fish there.

The Hague arbitration ruling has made things much more complicated. China utterly rejects the ruling so that it cannot allow Philippine fishermen to fish there if Philippine President Duterte insists that it has fishing rights based on the ruling. However, if Duterte fails to insist, he may be unpopular among his people whose nationalism has surged due to the ruling. Perhaps, the best way out for the two countries is to have an agreement allowing Philippine fishermen fishing there due to long-term friendship between the two countries.

I have reblogged Reuters’ report today on Duterte’s desire to seek alliance with Russia and China. He is obviously clear of the Cold War between the camp of China and Russia and that of the US. China and Russia’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) focuses on economic cooperation and regional security. Duterte wants both: cooperation to boost Philippine economy and help him deal with rebel forces.

Duterte is a better president. His predecessor pitted the US against China and began to arm the country, but Duterte wants peace. His predecessor refused China’s invitation of talks to resolve the disputes but he took initiative to talk. If he is sincere in resolving the disputes through talks, alliance with the US is useless for him as it is entirely a military alliance.

“Every alliance has a horse and a rider.” said Stephen Blank, a senior fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council. Mr. Blank defines US view on alliance very well. The US, as the strongest, always wants to be the rider and treat its allies as the horses. However, the rider fails to take care of the horse’s rights and interests. Duterte is so disappointed that he wants to end Philippines’ alliance with the US. The Philippines is tired of being a horse to serve the US as the rider. It wants to switch to alliance with Russia and China.

China and Russia’s view on alliance is entirely different. Alliance is a very close friendship in which there is no need for a certain member to be the lord over others. For example, the SCO is led by both China and Russia as neither of them wants to be the only leader. The weaker members of SCO in Central Asia enjoys Russian security protection and Chinese economic assistance.

For Deterte, there is the need of security protection to deal with rebels though no need with regard to China if he succeeds in improving ties with China. However Chinese economic assistance will be very attractive.

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report “Philippines’ Duterte wants to ‘open alliances’ with Russia, China” today which I have reblogged and SCMP’s report “South China Sea fishing rights at top of Philippine president’s agenda in Beijing”, full text of which can be viewed at South China Sea fishing rights at top of Philippine president’s agenda in Beijing.


China-led bloc keeps Iran at arm’s length despite Russian backing


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a China-led security bloc, refused to initiate Iran’s accession on Thursday despite a request from Russia which backs Tehran’s bid, indicating possible divisions between Beijing and Moscow.

The bloc has served a platform for Moscow and Beijing to project influence in the region. But unlike Russia, China may be reluctant to give it a strong anti-Western flavor.

Iran has long knocked at SCO’s door and Russia has argued that with Western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the bloc which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.

“The Russian position is clear in its support of initiating the SCO admission process (for Iran) without delays, if possible,” Bakhtiyor Khakimov, a special SCO envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters as leaders of the bloc’s member countries met in Uzbekistan.

“We failed to reach an agreement with our colleagues this time, but the work continues.”

Khakimov said there were no objections to the idea “in principle”, but there were “technical nuances” related to the timing. He did not name the objecting parties.

A Chinese diplomat who also spoke to reporters in Tashkent on Thursday declined to comment on Iran’s bid. But Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who visited Uzbekistan last month for a lower-level SCO meeting, said Beijing wanted to focus on the ongoing accession of India and Pakistan before moving on.

(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin and Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Source: Reuters “China-led bloc keeps Iran at arm’s length despite Russian backing”


China-Russia Cold War Camp against US, the SCO, Expanding Fast


Photo of a drone hitting a target in SCO military drill. Credit: Chinese air force

Photo of a drone hitting a target in SCO military drill. Credit: Chinese air force

In its report “5 countries want to join SCO- Secretary General” on June 14, Russian media Russia Beyond The Headline (RBTH) says that according to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary General Rashid Alimov, five countries including one Southeast Asian, three Middle Eastern and one Eastern European ones have applied to join SCO as dialogue partners while at the coming Tashkent summit in June, India and Pakistan that have already been accepted as SCO members will sign over 30 documents adopted by the SCO over the last 15 years to formally become SCO full members.

SCO was set up with the goal to counter the US, but due to lack of mutual trust between China and Russia, it did not expand for more than a decade in the 15 years since its establishment.

Now, as China and Russia have built up their mutual trust and become de facto allies, SCO has begun to expand with a vengeance. It has taken India and Pakistan as full members. In addition, according to Chinese official military forum mil.huanqiu.com, Iran and Afghanistan have formally applied for full membership; Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Syria have applied to be SCO observer states; and Ukraine, Maldives, Egypt and Israel have applied to join SCO as dialogue partners. If the five more applicants for dialogue partnership are taken into account, there are now nine applicants for dialogue partners.

It is indeed time for the US to return to Asia as China and Russia have taken most Asian countries into their camp. Even ASEAN, a long-term US ally, refuses to take side between China and the US. What is worse for the US, RBTH says in its report, “Alimov said more applications to join the SCO could be received soon, as another Southeast Asian nation showed interest at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in May.”

Not only China but also Russia is improving ties with Southeast Asian countries. The US has to enhance its efforts to return to Asia.

Cheer up, the US!

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Five more countries apply to be SCO partner states” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Source: Russia Beyond The Headline “5 countries want to join SCO- Secretary General”, full text of which can be viewed below:

5 countries want to join SCO- Secretary General
June 14, 2016 Interfax

General Rashid Alimov says three Middle Eastern nations have applied

Five countries have applied to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), its Secretary General Rashid Alimov said on June 13.

An Eastern European country, three Middle Eastern countries and a Southeast Asian country have sent applications to join the SCO as dialogue partners, Alimov said, without mentioning the names of the countries as “the issue is still at the developmental stage.”

Alimov said more applications to join the SCO could be received soon, as another Southeast Asian nation showed interest at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in May.

India-Pakistan conflicts not to affect SCO

Controversies between India and Pakistan will not be brought to the format of the SCO, Alimov added.

“We see no risk of controversies between India and Pakistan going to the SCO,” he said.

After 20 years Russia makes first inroads into ASEAN

Consultations with India and Pakistan have lasted for more than a year and both countries have been SCO observers for 11 years and know the organization’s rules well, Alimov said.

A document on the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO should be signed at the Tashkent summit in June.

This will be the “beginning of a new stage” in the transition of India and Pakistan from SCO observers to fully-fledged members. India and Pakistan are due to sign over 30 documents adopted by the SCO over the last 15 years.

Alimov met with a group of journalists from 18 countries that are either observers or dialogue partners of the SCO at the organization’s headquarters in Beijing. The Chinese committee for good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation organized the journalists’ visit on the occasion of the SCO’s 15th anniversary.