Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the 23rd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) via video conference from Beijing on July 4.
As the first intergovernmental organization named after a Chinese city, SCO today stands as a comprehensive regional cooperation organization that covers the largest area and population in the world.
Over the years, China has been firmly upholding the Shanghai Spirit and is ready to chart the way forward and work with other SCO members to build a closer community with a shared future.
The first batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines arrives at Tashkent International Airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, March 27, 2021. (Photo by Zafar Khalilov/Xinhua)
Evolving Core Values
At the landmark Qingdao summit of the SCO in 2018, Xi called on countries involved in the regional bloc to work closely to build an SCO community with a shared future, enriching the Shanghai Spirit which champions mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development.
"We owe SCO's remarkable success to the Shanghai Spirit. And we will continue to follow its guidance as we forge ahead," Xi said.
In the Qingdao Declaration, the SCO members embraced "building a community with a shared future for humanity" their most important political consensus and the goal for their future efforts.
Last year in Samarkand, an important town on the ancient Silk Road, Xi summarized the successful experience of the SCO, namely, upholding political trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, equality, openness and inclusiveness, and equity and justice. These five points fully embody the Shanghai Spirit, he said.
Amid the complex international situation and constantly evolving global challenges, Xi's vision has also been enriching the connotation of the Shanghai Spirit.
From putting forward China's view of "a global community of health for all," "an indivisible security community" and "a global development community," to proposing the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, Xi has been promoting the steady and long-term progress of the SCO along with the common development of mankind.
With a long history of exchanges, similar development tasks and a closely linked future, countries on the Eurasian continent have joined hands to build an even closer SCO community with a shared future, injecting vigorous impetus into regional and global development.
Under the Shanghai Spirit, they have carried out comprehensive cooperation, safeguarding energy security and food security, stabilizing and diversifying supply chains, as well as combating climate change, among others.
In 2022, leaders of the SCO member states adopted the Comprehensive Plan for the Implementation of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation for 2023-2027, drawing a blueprint for future collaboration in the next five years.
SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming said that the SCO has brought together countries from different regions, with different traditions and development paths thanks to the Shanghai Spirit, which has become a source of life and endless force propelling the group's development.
This photo taken on June 12, 2019 shows the Qingdao multimodal transportation center in the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
Over the years, the SCO has evolved from an organization that focuses on security and economic cooperation to one with a holistic view, aiming to build "a community of health for us all," "a community of security for us all," "a community of development for us all" and "a community of cultural exchanges for us all."
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the surging problems that have been plaguing human beings and also provided the SCO members with an opportunity to build a closer community with a shared future.
Guided by the vision of building "a community of health for us all," China has provided COVID-19 vaccines to Uzbekistan, donated anti-epidemic materials to Kyrgyzstan, and sent medical experts to Russia and Kazakhstan.
Over the past three years, China has provided over 2.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 120 countries and international organizations, offering vital support to developing nations in their battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regional security lays a solid foundation for SCO cooperation. Mechanisms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group have been proven to be effective in helping facilitate the peace process of the war-torn country for years.
Over the past decade, the SCO has become an important platform for practical Belt and Road cooperation. Major projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, SCO training and demonstration base for agricultural technology exchange and China-SCO local economic and trade cooperation demonstration zone have brought tangible benefits to local people.
In recent years, a comprehensive infrastructure network involving roads, oil and gas pipelines, and railways was gradually formed in the SCO region.
With the construction of transportation services such as the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline and the regular operation of China-Europe freight train services, ties among SCO member states have physically become closer.
In June, the fifth anniversary of the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area was celebrated in the eastern Chinese coastal city of Qingdao. Statistics showed that apart from sea, air, and road transport, the Area operates 31 international freight train routes, reaching 54 cities in 23 countries, including the SCO countries and those along the Belt and Road.
"China's economic growth momentum is strong, and I hope that more Kazakh businessmen will continue to deeply integrate into China's new development paradigm and achieve win-win results through cooperation," said Botakoz Yelshibek, a Kazakhstan youth who had studied and worked in China for six years.
Established in January 2022, the China-SCO Institute of Economy and Trade in Qingdao has held over 130 training programs covering international logistics and cross-border e-commerce and trained over 9,900 people from 43 SCO countries and others along the Belt and Road.
Meanwhile, China has also promised to establish a China-SCO base for training counter-terrorism personnel, set up a China-SCO Big Data Cooperation Center and provide developing countries in need with emergency humanitarian assistance of grain and other supplies worth 1.5 billion RMB yuan (about 214 million U.S. dollars). Its commitments to the SCO not only benefit the region but also lead a broader range of practical cooperation.
Students learn skills at the Luban Workshop in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, April 12, 2023. (Photo by Kalizhan Ospanov/Xinhua)
As a steadfast champion of multilateralism since its founding, the SCO is committed to building an open and inclusive "big family" for like-minded countries.
At the Samarkand summit in 2022, the SCO kicked off a new round of the largest expansion of the SCO membership, signing a memorandum of obligations on Iran's SCO membership, starting the procedure for Belarus' accession, granting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar the status of SCO dialogue partners, and reaching an agreement on admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners.
"In recent years, an increasing number of countries have applied to join our SCO family. This fully demonstrates the power of SCO's vision and the widely shared confidence in its future," Xi said on the significance of the SCO membership expansion.
From a regional organization with six founding members to a big family with dozens of members and partners, the SCO has developed into a new type of international organization, transcending differences in ideology, social system, and development path, and setting an example of international relations.
People-to-people exchanges constitute a crucial component of SCO cooperation. Cultural events such as the Year of Languages, the Year of Culture, and the Year of Tourism have been held in succession among member countries. The first Luban Workshop in Tajikistan in Central Asia has trained plenty of local professionals. Through flourishing cultural and people-to-people exchange events, the civil bond of the SCO family is getting stronger.
Over the years, China has worked to forge a series of consensus among SCO members on strengthening cooperation in big data, artificial intelligence, green infrastructure, tackling climate change, and safeguarding international energy and food security.
In the face of a torrent of global challenges and crises, the SCO has become an indispensable force in anchoring global stability, safeguarding world peace and security, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Looking into the future, China is ready to work with other SCO member states to actively implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative, promote the development and prosperity of regional countries, build an even closer SCO community with a shared future, and jointly open up a brighter future for the Eurasian region.