BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) -- As leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gather in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, for the 17th summit of the regional bloc, the underlying values guiding SCO development, the "Shanghai Spirit," is once again proving its vitality.
Since its establishment in 2001 on the basis of the "Shanghai Five" bloc, the SCO has developed into a significant platform for maintaining regional security and stability and promoting regional growth and prosperity through continuously deepening strategic cooperation and mutual trust between the member states.
As the spiritual bedrock of the organization, the "Shanghai Spirit" features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, and stands in sharp contrast with the Cold War-era confrontational mentality that can still be traced in many Western mechanisms.
Following the "Shanghai Spirit," the SCO has been moving on a fast track of development that is efficient, practical and healthy, and has yielded impressive achievements.
For example, it has effectively cracked down on the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism, improved regional transportation facilities and facilitated trade and investment.
As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it in April, the SCO "has maintained a robust development momentum and strongly protected the security and development interests of its member states, demonstrating its unique strategic value."
Meanwhile, the SCO has also expanded external exchanges with other regional and global organizations and cultivated an ever-growing circle of friends. It is China's steadfast belief that an inclusive and open mechanism will inject vigor and vitality into the organization's cooperation in safeguarding regional peace and pursuing common development.
What is most impressive is the upcoming accession of India and Pakistan. The two SCO observers signed the bloc's Memorandum of Obligations in June 2016, kick-starting the process of their accession. They are expected to get full membership this year.
Their accession speaks volumes. Among others, it will boost the region's endeavors in countering terrorism and extremism, one of the major tasks for the group since its birth.
More importantly, it indicates the rising appeal of the "Shanghai Spirit" and increasing international influence of the organization, whose full members and observers accounting for nearly half of the world's population.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin told Xinhua in an exclusive interview last year, "the expansion of the SCO's functions and the increase in its member numbers have made it an authoritative and popular international organization in the region and the world at large."
In addition, the openness and inclusiveness of the "Shanghai Spirit" has allowed the SCO to seize development opportunities for the benefit of its members and the region at large.
With all its six current members located along the ancient Silk Road, the SCO has voiced strong support for the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, and the complementary strengths of the two frameworks promise a bright future of fruitful cooperation.
All this has eloquently proved that the SCO is on no account a new Warsaw Pact designed to counterbalance NATO and the United States. Its path of development testifies to that.
Instead, the cooperation-oriented organization has provided the tumultuous world with a new model for different nations to overcome racial, cultural and other gaps and promote peace, stability and prosperity.
And its founding principle, the "Shanghai Spirit," has offered an alternative approach to handling international relations and a new compass for all nations that wish to live in peace and harmony.