The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Chinese experience in it offer a good opportunity for the effective institutionalization of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Even so, the recent expansion of the organization, after the admittance of India and Pakistan as full members, also presents some challenges for the successful implementation of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This paper proceeds to analyze the major motivations behind the Chinese BRI and its interactions with the SCO, highlighting the inclusion of good relations with its neighbors as one of the new cores in Chinese foreign policy-making, as well as other important ideas that provide the content of an intended institutional change. The second half of the paper focuses on the implications of the new maritime silk road for Latin America, noting how despite being a geographically distant place, bilateral trade and economic interactions between the People's Republic of China and this region have expanded at a higher speed than those between China and the Eurasian SCO members. Consequently, an eventual expansion of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to include Latin America, can consider the Chinese experience within the SCO as a case offering valuable lessons.