Astana summit to open new prospects for SCO cooperation

By CGTN   |    2024-07-04 14:21:28

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) currently boasts 9 member countries, 3 observer states, and 14 dialogue partners, spanning the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Together, SCO member states represent over 40 percent of the world's population and account for one-quarter of the global economy. Following the memorandum signed at the 2023 SCO summit, the organization is set to further expand this year, demonstrating its growing influence.

The pursuit of common development remains the core theme of the "Shanghai Spirit". SCO member countries face the critical tasks of national development and economic revitalization. Under the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit, the SCO aims to create a shared circle of development and strengthen collective progress. From its initial focus on security cooperation to the dual-driven model of security and economic cooperation, and now to a multi-track approach encompassing health, security, development, and cultural community, the SCO has forged a unique path of development. It has become a bridge of cooperation, a bond of friendship, and a constructive force in the region.

Economic and trade cooperation have significantly boosted the economic scale and development levels of SCO member states. By 2021, their combined GDP had surged to approximately $23.3 trillion, over 13 times its initial size. In 20 years, total foreign trade volume among SCO members increased nearly 100-fold. As of mid-2022, China's direct investment in other SCO member states had exceeded $37.5 billion.

China, a founding member of the SCO, has consistently led initiatives to propel the organization's steady progress. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a prime example of practical cooperation, with many SCO members being early participants. Trade and investment among SCO members have surged, with China-Central Asia trade reaching nearly $90 billion in 2023, a 27.2 percent year-on-year increase, marking a historical high.

Key infrastructure projects, like the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway, the Central Asia–China Gas Pipeline, along with the regular and efficient operation of China-Europe freight trains, illustrate the efforts to enhance "hard connectivity" among SCO members. Additionally, the SCO has established numerous multi-level, multi-field consultation mechanisms and cultural exchange events, fostering deeper mutual understanding.

In this new decade of opportunities, the Astana summit is expected to reach further consensus on aligning the BRI with national development strategies, initiating more cooperative projects, and enhancing the SCO's role in the global economy.

At a time when global governance is being reshaped, the SCO's role in regional stability and development is crucial. China is poised to play an active role in driving collective efforts within the SCO, ensuring that this summit lays the groundwork for new chapters of cooperation, fostering regional security and development, and building a community with a shared future for humanity.

Astana summit to open new prospects for SCO cooperation