Chinese President Xi Jinping poses for a group photo with other leaders and guests ahead of the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept. 16, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
* The SCO was born more than two decades ago with a fundamental mission to combat the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism. Over the years, security cooperation has remained a major focus for member states within the SCO framework.
* While the SCO members are facing similar security challenges, they also share common aspirations for better and more broadly shared development. In fact, in decades' time, the SCO has grown into a major force for common development in the region and beyond.
* As the world community is wrestling with common challenges like the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and a warming planet, no country can tackle them alone. Over the years, the SCO has successfully explored a path for strengthening global solidarity to tackle such challenges under the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit.
SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- As Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders gathered here on Friday for the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), humanity has come to a critical juncture and is struggling to cope with a torrent of unprecedented global challenges.
While addressing the summit, Xi described the SCO "as an important constructive force in international and regional affairs," saying that it shoulders an important responsibility to uphold peace and development of the Eurasian continent.
FOR COMMON SECURITY
In a highly interdependent world, the fates of all nations are tightly bundled together. Moreover, without security, there will be no development to speak of.
The SCO was born more than two decades ago with a fundamental mission to combat the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism. Over the years, security cooperation has remained a major focus for member states within the SCO framework.
From signing the anti-terrorism convention and conducting joint military drills to cracking down on Internet-based propagation of extremist ideology and pushing forward the peace process in Afghanistan, the SCO has witnessed burgeoning security cooperation among its members on regional and international arenas. To build a more secure world, the SCO members can and should do more.
Speaking at the SCO Samarkand summit on Friday, Xi warned that the world today is not a peaceful place, while rivalry between two sets of policy choices -- unity or division, cooperation or confrontation -- is getting more acute. He then called for efforts to continue to foster a favorable environment for the development and rejuvenation of member states.
Calling on the international community to expand security cooperation, he said "the Global Security Initiative (GSI) put forward by China is to address the peace deficit and global security challenges. It calls on all countries to stay true to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture."
"We welcome all stakeholders to get involved in implementing this initiative," he added.
Sergei Lukonin, head of the Department of Chinese Politics and Economics at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the Xi-proposed GSI "can certainly bring additional new directions for the peaceful development of the whole world."
"I believe that the GSI will help build an indivisible, just and equitable security global community," said Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh.
DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL
While the SCO members are facing similar security challenges, they also share common aspirations for better and more broadly shared development. In fact, in decades' time, the SCO has grown into a major force for common development in the region and beyond.
Within the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, the SCO has unleashed enormous development opportunities for the region and the wider world by building up connectivity. It has also been advancing synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of regional countries.
The combined economic size of the SCO countries has risen around 13-fold since its founding. And because of the strong economic complementarity among SCO members, their trade relations have also soared over the years. In 2021, China's trade with other SCO members reached 343.1 billion U.S. dollars, up 40 percent year-on-year. In general, SCO members' foreign trade totaled 6.6 trillion dollars as of 2021, an increase of 100 times from 20 years earlier.
Looking into the future, the Chinese president at Friday's summit urged the members to pursue inclusiveness and shared benefits in promoting development cooperation, saying that they should actively promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, ensure the stable and smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains, and encourage the orderly flow of resources and factors of production, so as to realize greater economic integration and development in the region.
In a statement delivered via video at the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2021, Xi proposed a Global Development Initiative (GDI) to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated, and inclusive growth in face of the severe shocks of COVID-19.
At the SCO Samarkand summit, he pledged that "China is ready to work with all other stakeholders to pursue this initiative (GDI) in our region to support the sustainable development of regional countries."
The GDI, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov said, conforms to the trend of the times and the aspirations of the people of all countries: the desire for peace, cooperation and development.
Calling the GDI "superb," Muhammadjon Obidov, chairman of the Creative Union of Journalists of the Ferganar region in Uzbekistan, said "the message of this initiative is to promote poverty reduction, ensure food security and dynamic development, and, most importantly, to build a community with a shared future for global development."
STAY COMMITTED TO SHANGHAI SPIRIT
As the world community is wrestling with common challenges like the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and a warming planet, no country can tackle them alone. Over the years, the SCO has successfully explored a path for strengthening global solidarity to tackle such challenges under the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit.
The experience drawn from the SCO's success is that countries should respect each other's core interests and choice of development path; that they should stay true to the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits; that they should treat each other as equals, and reject the practice of the strong bullying the weak or the big bullying the small; and that they need to stand for harmonious coexistence and mutual learning between different countries, nations and cultures, dialogue between civilizations and seeking common ground while shelving differences.
"We should remain firm in safeguarding the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law, practice the common values of humanity, and reject zero-sum game and bloc politics ... so as to uphold true multilateralism, improve global governance, and ensure that the international order is more just and equitable," Xi said.
The very fact that the SCO has been accepting new members and dialogue partners can prove the grouping's inclusiveness as well as growing global popularity. At Friday's summit, Iran has officially become a full SCO member. The meeting also started the procedure for Belarus' accession, granted Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar the status of SCO dialogue partners, and reached agreement on admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners. The expanding SCO is making the organization an even stronger force for world fairness and justice.
And those practices by the SCO fully embody the Shanghai Spirit, namely, mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development.
Farhad Javanbakht Kheirabadi, a China scholar at Shahid Beheshti University in Iran, said "the cooperation and coordination within the framework of the SCO can set a basis for the expansion of multilateralism, help resolve global problems and give people hope."
Alexey Avdonin, an analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, echoed Javanbakht Kheirabadi, saying that the SCO has not only brought benefits to the people of its member states, but also peace, order and prosperity to the world.
As more countries want to be a part of the SCO, it shows that the SCO vision enjoys broad popular support, and has played a tangible role in promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. Enditem
(Xinhua reporters Shi Hao and Yuan Xinfang in Moscow, Sovan Nguon in Phnom Penh, Hu Xiaoming in New Delhi, Guan Jianwu in Bishkek, Cai Guodong in Tashkent, Zhang Jiye in Nur-Sultan, Zou Xuemian in Kabul, Gao Wencheng in Iran, and Lu Jinbo in Minsk also contributed to the story.)■