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CGTN: China calls for solidarity among SCO members as the bloc turns 20

BEIJING, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — China on Friday called on member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and build a closer SCO community with a shared future.

Noting that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the SCO’s founding, Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewed the history of SCO cooperation and made proposals for its future development at the 21st meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO. The summit was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which is holding the rotating SCO presidency in 2021.

Addressing the summit in Beijing via video link, Xi called on SCO member states to enhance collaboration on Afghanistan-related issues and promote a smooth transition in the country.

The SCO will launch procedures to admit Iran as a member state and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new dialogue partners on Friday, said the Chinese president.

Efforts to build ‘new type of international relations’

The creation of the SCO was announced on June 15, 2001, in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russian, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined the bloc in 2017, bringing the number of member states to eight.

President Xi hailed the “vigorous growth” of the SCO and the “fruitful, mutually beneficial cooperation” among its member states during the past two decades.

“Guided by the Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development, the SCO has endeavored to promote world peace, development and human progress, and to explore new ground, both theoretically and with actual steps, with a view to building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind,” the Chinese president said.

SCO member states have jointly promoted political mutual trust, ensured security and stability, pursued prosperity and development, and upheld international justice, he added.

“We were the first to call for fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism,” Xi said, underscoring cooperation among SCO members states in curbing the spread of drug trafficking and holding counter-terrorism exercises and border control operations.

‘Closer SCO community with a shared future’

The SCO has reached a “new historical starting point” after 20 years of development, President Xi said, calling for efforts to “build a closer SCO community with a shared future” and make further contributions to lasting global peace and common prosperity.

The organization should stay committed to enhancing solidarity and cooperation, upholding common security, promoting openness and integration, boosting interactions and mutual learning, and upholding equity and justice, he said.

The Chinese president called on SCO member states to enhance policy dialogue, communication and coordination and respect each other’s legitimate concerns in their cooperation so as to keep the organization “on a steady course of development.”

“We should maintain firm confidence in our systems, reject condescending lecturing, and firmly support countries in exploring development paths and governance models that are compatible with their national conditions,” he said. “We should keep the future of our countries’ development and progress firmly in our own hands.”

‘Most pressing task’

Stressing that the fight against COVID-19 remains the “most pressing task,” President Xi called for joint efforts among the member states to deepen cooperation against the pandemic, promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and firmly oppose any act of politicizing COVID-19 origins tracing.

China has provided approximately 1.2 billion doses of finished and bulk vaccines to over 100 countries and international organizations, he said, adding that China will step up efforts to provide a total of two billion doses to other countries this year.

To facilitate post-COVID economic recovery in the region, China will strive to reach $2.3 trillion in its cumulative trade with other SCO countries in the next five years, Xi said.

China will also provide 1,000 training opportunities in poverty alleviation for other SCO countries in the next three years, he announced.

SCO cooperation on Afghanistan

President Xi called for tough actions from SCO member states to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Commenting on the “daunting challenges” faced by Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops, he called on SCO member states to make full use of platforms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and facilitate a smooth transition in the country.

“We need to encourage Afghanistan to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework, adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies, resolutely fight all forms of terrorism, live in amity with its neighbors and truly embark on a path of peace, stability and development,” he stressed.

The Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15 and announced the formation of a caretaker government earlier this month. China has urged the Taliban to make a clean break with all terrorist organizations, including the ETIM, and resolutely fight against them. The Taliban have pledged not to allow Afghan territory to be used “against anybody or any country in the world.”

‘Defenders of international order’

President Xi highlighted the SCO’s role in upholding equity and justice in the world. “Acting from a so-called ‘position of strength’ is not the way to handle international affairs, and hegemonic, domineering and bullying acts should be firmly rejected,” he said.

“We need to practice true multilateralism and oppose actions that use the name of the so-called rules to undermine the international order and cause confrontation and division,” he added.

As the SCO launches procedures to admit Iran as a member state and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new dialogue partners, Xi expressed confidence that the “growing SCO family” will play roles as the “builders of world peace, contributors to global development and defenders of the international order.”

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