SCO shows the Shanghai Spirit

Updated: 2013-09-12 07:34

By Wang Yusheng (China Daily)

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Discussions based on mutual trust and respect will strengthen economic cooperation and enhance further regional stability

With the 13th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to be held in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, on Friday, a look back at the preceding 12 years will reveal that the SCO has progressed in leaps and bounds and made enormous achievements in the region and beyond.

Since it was founded 12 years ago, when Uzbekistan joined the members of the Shanghai Five China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan and the six heads of state signed the Declaration of the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the SCO has met with all kinds of interference, but it has successfully overcome them all. The cooperation among its member states, which started with security issues, has gradually expanded to encompass politics, the economy and culture. In doing so the organization has become an exemplary model of cooperation in the dawning of a new era of international relations.

The most significant achievement of the SCO over the last 12 years has been the emergence of the Shanghai Spirit. The simple words and phrases that define the Shanghai Spirit are "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and seeking common development", which are the characteristics of a new era of relations between countries, as well as the common goal of all the SCO member states. As Vladimir Putin wrote in 2006, in a widely quoted article during his first term as prime minister of Russia, the SCO has opened a new mode of successful international cooperation. Kirill Barsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin's SCO envoy, said in an interview prior to the upcoming SCO summit in Bishkek, which Putin is due to attend, that the SCO has become a vigorous organization that is a powerful stabilizer in the region.

The successful development of the SCO is built on the foundation that all members of the SCO have equal standing within its framework, embodying the bloc's principles of "non-alliance, non-confrontation and not being directed against any third party".

The success of the SCO and the equality of voices within it have made it increasingly attractive to other countries; Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are all observer states, while Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey are dialogue partners.

With their ever-deepening cooperation the organization has made noteworthy progress in the fight against the three evil forces that threaten the region, namely terrorism, separatism and extremism. By working together in the fight against the three evil forces, the member states have successfully maintained regional stability and promoted common development. This is in direct contrast to the United States and its allies, which have been mired in an anti-terrorism war in central Asia for more than 10 years with little to show for it.

Another significant achievement of the SCO is that the member states successfully defended themselves against the "color revolution" incited by the neo-conservative idealists of the United States. And by offering each other essential help and exchanging key information, the members of the SCO have successfully navigated all the potential risks and challenges that have arisen and ensured that they can each develop in their own chosen way.

All these achievements, together with the successful and smooth running of the SCO, have dealt a heavy blow to those who have tried to ferment trouble in the region.

At the Bishkek summit, the SCO members will again demonstrate their determination to further deepen regional cooperation, and ensure coordination among the member states on important regional and international issues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the summit and discuss ways to strengthen economic cooperation and enhance regional security with the other leaders, and discussions on the security situation after the US withdraws its troops in 2014 are also expected to be on the agenda.

Those who exaggerate the tensions between China and some of its neighboring countries, such as Japan and the Philippines, in an attempt to create divisions in Asia, conveniently turn a blind eye to the achievements and solidarity of the SCO, which will be demonstrated once again in Bishkek.

The author is executive director of the Strategy Study Center, China Foundation for International Studies, and China's former senior official to APEC.

(China Daily USA 09/12/2013 page11)