Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden met with his counterparts from the five states of Central Asia in the first-ever leaders’ summit of the so-called C5+1 format. The meeting is a step in the right direction when it comes to U.S. policy toward an increasingly strategic region, but one that Washington has historically neglected.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s annual leaders’ summit in early July highlighted the group’s potential to be a potent force multiplier for both Russia and China, particularly in the context of great power competition. But it is still a work in progress, and many obstacles remain before it can realize its potential.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted an in-person summit with the presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The gathering was the latest demonstration of China’s growing geo-economic role in Central Asia, marking what Xi called a “new era” in Beijing’s relations with the region.