Carrying forward the Shanghai Spirit, enhancing common security and development
Li Bijian

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world.Li Bijian is the Consul General of China in Karachi. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On September 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping is attending the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Over the past two decades and more, the SCO has maintained strong vitality and momentum of cooperation. The fundamental reason is that it has always followed the Shanghai Spirit, which stands for mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development.

Under the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit, the SCO has gradually broadened the scope of cooperation, and over the past 21 years has achieved important results in the areas of security, trade and economy, culture, health, education, science and technology, tourism, disaster mitigation, media and justice, which in general can be summarized in two main areas, namely development and security.

Under the SCO framework, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has dovetailed with the development strategies of various countries and regional cooperation initiatives such as the Eurasian Economic Union to maintain a stable and smooth industry chain and supply chain, and promote economic integration, development linkages and the sharing of results among countries. Despite the impact of the COVID-19, the total economic volume of member countries reached $23.3 trillion in 2021, accounting for nearly a quarter of global GDP, an increase of 13 times compared to the beginning of the SCO.  

A number of cooperation projects and mechanisms, such as the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area, the China-SCO Forum on the Digital Economy Industry, the China-SCO Smart Tourism Center, the Organization's internal cooperation mechanism in the field of health, the Traditional Medicine Forum, the Joint Working Group on Poverty Reduction, the Arts Festival, the SCO University and the Vocational Skills Competition, have been implemented.

A view of the 2021 SCO International Investment and Trade Expo in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, April 26, 2021. /Xinhua

A view of the 2021 SCO International Investment and Trade Expo in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, April 26, 2021. /Xinhua

Development is the eternal theme of human society and an important yardstick for progress of the times. The above-mentioned cooperation achievements have strongly expanded the development space of the SCO and contributed to economic recovery and improvement of people's livelihood. This is in line with the Global Development Initiative (GDI) put forward by President Xi Jinping at the general debate of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in 2021, which upholds the concepts of prioritizing development and putting people at the center. The results of the SCO's development have proved that the GDI is in line with the trend of the times and is a good prescription for promoting global post-epidemic recovery and strengthening international cooperation, and is in line with the common desire of the international community to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Under the SCO framework, member states have steadily promoted law enforcement and security cooperation, resolutely curbed the spread of drug trafficking, cybercrime and transnational organized crime, made joint efforts to combat the terrorism, separatism and extremism, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and expanded cooperation in non-traditional security areas, which will build an impregnable security barrier. At the same time, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group has been used to facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan, and encourage the country to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework, adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies, so as to ease the regional situation and maintain a peaceful and stable development environment.

Security is a prerequisite for development, and humanity is an indivisible security community. The above-mentioned cooperation outcomes are highly consistent with the Global Security Initiatives (GSI) put forward by President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022, all of which adheres to the common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable concept of security, as well as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and the integrated maintenance of security in traditional and non-traditional areas. The SCO's development achievements are a vivid manifestation of GSI, focusing on the joint efforts of regional countries to maintain world peace and tranquility and enriching the connotation of SCO community with a shared future.

As an emerging progressive force in Eurasian and international affairs, the SCO has injected positive energy into advancing regional and international cooperation and promoting a more just and rational international order. The SCO adopted a resolution in 2017, granting membership to India and Pakistan, increased the organization's membership to eight. This year's SCO summit will continue to promote the expansion process, accept like-minded countries as observer states or dialogue partners, and continuously expand the network of partners for international cooperation.

As the Samarkand Summit begins, the SCO will continue to hold high the banner of the Shanghai Spirit and continue to promote the implementation of GDI and GSI, so that it can continue to grow in comprehensive strength, achieve new leaps and make greater contributions to lasting peace and common development in the world.

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