BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhua) -- India andPakistan are expected to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as members during its 16th meeting of the Council of Heads of state in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent on June 23-24.
The expansion of the group from six members to eight is an eloquent testimony to the drawing power of the SCO's underlying values -- the "Shanghai Spirit" of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of shared development.
Born together with the "Shanghai Five" 20 years ago, the "Shanghai Spirit" not only serves as the core value of the SCO, but also has contributed to the growing influence of Central Asia as a whole.
"It used to be a Central Asian bloc that pursues collective security. With two more members, the group is establishing itself as a Eurasian bloc that can achieve more both in security and economic terms," said Wang Yiwei, head of theEuropean UnionResearch Center at China's Renmin University.
SUCCESSFUL SECURITY COOPERATION
As an effective and constructive regional mechanism, the SCO has gained a reputation for successfully ensuring regional stability, something that the 16th meeting of the Council of Heads of State will reiterate this week.
Its predecessor, the "Shanghai Five" that grouped China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Russiaand Tajikistan, has successfully guarded Central Asia against conflicts thanks to two important regional treaties signed under the guidance of the "Shanghai Spirit," the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in 1996 and the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in 1997.
The treaties, said Erik Ashimov, Kazakhstan's permanent delegate to the SCO Secretariat, are "unprecedented" because they have "turned the once conflicting border areas into peaceful ones that even serve as a bond of friendship between bordering countries."
In 2001, the bloc included Uzbekistan in the "Shanghai Five" mechanism before the six countries adopted the Declaration of the SCO in June, leading the organization to attain a higher level of international cooperation.
Since its establishment, the bloc has effectively fought against traditional security threats like the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism as well as non-traditional ones like cross-border crimes.
"The SCO has yielded the most impressive results in security cooperation through such joint efforts as regular anti-terrorism training exercises, exchanges of information on terrorist activities, and coordination among intelligence departments," said Alexander Lukin, director of the Center for East Asia and SCO Studies at the Moscow State University for International Relations.
According to Sergey Katyrin, president of Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the SCO, carrying forward the "Shanghai Spirit," has contributed greatly to regional stability, steadily gaining influence as an effective working mechanism for peacekeeping and a guarantor of stability in the Eurasian region.
GREATER RESPONSIBILITIES ASSUMED
The 16th SCO summit is poised to further advocate the "Shanghai Spirit" and guide the direction of the bloc's further development, featuring security cooperation in a broader region of Eurasia and wider economic cooperation.
"By admitting India and Pakistan into the bloc, the SCO is facing up to a security threat in the broader Eurasian region," said Ye Hailin, researcher on South Asian issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The group will be combating security threats like terrorism in a broader regional space."
Ye's remarks are highly relevant as the situation is changing swiftly though the security situation is relatively stable in Central Asia.
"There has been an increase of violent regional tensions and terrorist activities," said Andre Kazantsev, director of the Analytical Center at Russia's Moscow Institute of International Relations.
He said the Islamic State has recruited a large number of people from this economically uneven area and the possibility that terrorist activities will originate from Central Asian nations is on the rise.
"We are faced with increasingly heightened border stress, which could grow more grave in the future," said Yuri Tavrovsky, professor at People's Friendship University of Russia.
"Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for us to enhance our coordination to combat terrorism and safeguard the security of Central Asia," Kazantsev said.
Mechanisms within the SCO have been created for joint anti-terrorism drills, intelligence exchanges and cyber terrorism. But more coordination and cohesion are needed, said Zhang Xinfeng, former director of the Executive Committee of the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorism Agency.
Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the SCO Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the SCO is also facing unconventional security threats.
"Securing food sources has become a priority for many Central Asian countries whose food supply relies heavily on imports," Sun said, adding that "nations such as Kazakhstan that are better off economically need to attach importance to financial security."
BROADER COOPERATION PROSPECT
With India and Pakistan on board, the bloc might also add a few countries to the observation list, which, said Wang, is a step forward in expanding the region's economic prosperity.
To promote common prosperity, SCO member countries have been aligning themselves with China's Belt and Road Initiative, which Chinese PresidentXi Jinpingproposed in 2013 in a bid to boost connectivity and cooperation among Asia, African and European nations.
Some programs have already yielded results and others remain ongoing.
The Western Europe-Western China international transit corridor and the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman transport corridor are under construction and are crucial in the rebuilding of the Silk Road. This expansion of international transportation would benefit some 3 billion people in countries along the ancient road.
When the China-Kyrgyzstan railway project is completed and put into operation, Kyrgyzstan will be able to connect its railway lines with those of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and even Europe, increasing regional interconnectivity.
Furthermore, SCO member states have also made headway cooperating in the energy and telecommunication sectors, among others.
In order to fund larger projects, Chinese PremierLi Keqiang, speaking at the SCO Prime Ministers' Meeting in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou last December, called for a steady expansion of the SCO Interbank Consortium.
He also added that China would promote the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank to support SCO member projects.
These measures are intended to fulfil China's pledge to build a community of common destiny in the region, a pledge fueled by the "Shanghai Spirit."
BEIJING, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary-General Rashid Alimov has lauded the vitality and prospects of the SCO, saying it has strived for political stability, security, economic cooperation and common development among its member countries.
"Within the group, no one dominates, wins or loses, and agreements are reached through negotiation and consultation, which has made the SCO a paradigm of the peaceful co-existence of nations with different powers and various political systems and cultures," said Alimov.Full story
TASHKENT, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday hailed the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in promoting regional prosperity and stability, and proposed to further develop the bloc.
Here are the key points Wang made in his remarks delivered at a SCO foreign ministers' meeting in the Uzbek capital.Full story