SCO safeguards security, development

By China Daily   |    2024-07-04 10:58:32


The gold-mirrored 22-meter-diameter sphere shining above the 97-meter-tall observation deck of Baiterek Tower signifies the importance of the Kazakh capital of Astana as a new metropolis on the ancient land of Central Asia. Astana is hosting the 24th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit.

Kazakhstan, as the SCO chair since 2023, has identified six priority areas — security, trade and economy, energy cooperation, digital technology development, environmental protection, and cultural and humanitarian relations — and has dedicated the Astana summit to strengthening multilateral dialogue, maintaining peace and promoting development in the region.

At the ongoing summit, participants are expected to sign more than 20 documents on security and trade, including the renewal of the Program of Cooperation on Countering Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2025-27, and the SCO Anti-Drug Strategy for 2024-29.

Held under the theme of the SCO Initiative On World Unity for Just Peace and Harmony, Astana will see Belarus participating in the deliberations as the 10th full SCO member on Thursday.

After 23 years of development, the SCO today comprises not only Eurasian and Central Asian countries but also South Asian and Middle East nations, and now a European country. The SCO has grown from a mechanism aimed at addressing the border issues among China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into an organization safeguarding regional security, and promoting economic development and humanitarian exchanges.

The SCO has not only facilitated development in the region but also deepened political mutual trust and promoted cooperation among its member states. With the inclusion of Belarus, the SCO has now become a 10-member regional organization, with two observer states and 14 dialogue partners.

With the combined GDP of its member states exceeding $20 trillion, the SCO has become one of the most influential regional organizations, and enjoys greater a say in global affairs.

Over the years, the SCO member states have signed many cooperation deals and agreed to many proposals. For example, in 2018 the concept of jointly building an SCO community with a shared future was proposed at the SCO Summit in Qingdao, Shandong province, and included in the joint declaration.

The "Shanghai Spirit" forms the foundation of the SCO and propels the development of the organization. The Shanghai Spirit also embodies the core values of the SCO.

By upholding the Shanghai Spirit, which comprises mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development, the SCO member states can better interact with each other, and develop a new type of international relations marked by mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.

It is in the Shanghai Spirit that the SCO is willing to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and create favorable conditions for the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis, but only if both Moscow and Kyiv agree to the SCO's role as a mediator.

At the same time, the SCO has taken measures to safeguard energy, food and financial security, and has been contributing to the global fight against climate change.

Also, thanks to the increasing exchanges among the member states, cooperation under the SCO framework continues to extend to new areas such as new energy, modern agriculture, the digital economy and healthcare, with the SCO facilitating barrier-free circulation of goods, services and capital, and taking measures to reduce the impact of transportation on the environment.

That the SCO continues to be attractive is proven by the increasing number of applications by countries to join the organization.

After the Astana summit, China will assume the rotating chair of the SCO. Nursing the deep belief that safeguarding security and promoting development in its neighborhood is necessary to help build a community with a shared future for mankind, China has been implementing the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative. And it will continue to do so after assuming the SCO chair to create a better future for the Eurasian continent and the regions beyond.

(The author Xu Wenhong is deputy secretary-general of the Center for Belt and Road, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.)

SCO safeguards security, development