An aerial view of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge which is currently under construction between the islands of Malé and Hulhumalé in the Maldives. The 1.39 km-long bridge, scheduled to open in August, is an important cooperation project between China and Maldives under the Belt and Road Initiative (XINHUA)
With the aim of further promoting regional peace and development, the First Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Political Parties Forum was held in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, on May 26, marking the establishment of a brand new mechanism.
Under the theme of Pooling Wisdom of Political Parties, Promoting the Shanghai Spirit and Building a Global Community with a Shared Future, the forum was hosted by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and attended by around 200 representatives from more than 30 political parties in 18 SCO member states, observers and dialogue partners.
"As the forerunners and guides of national development, political parties play a leading role in building a global community with a shared future and making the world a better place. Promoting exchanges between SCO political parties is sure to boost its future development," said Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony.
According to Song, the CPC is willing to make every effort to advance the construction of an SCO community with a shared future featuring equality, mutual support and solidarity together with other SCO members.
"As a regional organization whose member states account for approximately half of the world's population, the SCO has become a model for peaceful development and cultural exchange," said Sergey Zheleznyak, deputy secretary of the General Council of the United Russia Party, during the forum.
"Political parties are the most active forces in political life. When we get together under the framework of the SCO for dialogue, we can exchange our experience of managing parties and nations, which could open a new chapter in SCO cooperation," Zheleznyak said.
"The forum is productive and pragmatic, and under the framework of SCO cooperation, it is necessary for all political parties to conduct exchanges and promote partnerships in security, economic and cultural development, education, and tourism," said Nariman Umarov, President of the Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party of Uzbekistan.
Anirban Ganguly, special representative of the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party of India, noted that the successful conclusion of the forum signifies the efficient partnerships among member countries under the SCO framework, and that endeavors should be made to further exchange experience of governance and promote mutual learning
"It is the shared desire of all attendees to learn from each other's experience of governance at the party and national level, and bilateral and multilateral relations will inevitably benefit from the sharing of ideas on development and party construction and governance," Ganguly said .
Following the discussion, consensus was reached on maintaining the Shanghai Spirit, striving to build an SCO community with a shared future, strengthening coordination on action plans and promoting the institutionalization of the forum, according to Guo Yezhou, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, at a news conference held after the conclusion of the forum.
"The forum helped create a positive and friendly atmosphere for the upcoming SCO Summit," which will be held in Qingdao, Shandong Province, in June, said Guo.
As the philosophical underpinning of the SCO, the Shanghai Spirit espouses reciprocal trust, mutual benefit, equality, two-way consultation, respect for cultural diversity and the pursuit of common development.
Extremist, separatist and protectionist behaviors are in violation of these principles, and cooperative multilateral initiatives such as the Belt and Road and the Eurasian Economic Union should be further strengthened according to Zheleznyak, who believes the key to pushing forward these initiatives lies in the Shanghai Spirit.
Representatives were in agreement that the Shanghai Spirit is a dynamic set of practical values applicable at any time and in any region, and that it is the source of strength and the foundation of cooperation within the SCO, fundamental for all political parties to build consensus.
The first Shanghai Cooperation Organization Political Parties Forum was held in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, on May 26 (XINHUA)
A shared future
Attendees agreed that exchanges between political parties under the framework of the SCO not only facilitate cooperation and communication, but also contribute wisdom and effective approaches toward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
"The SCO has developed into a unique regional organization and an important guarantee for security and stable development in the Eurasian region," said Muratbek Imanaliev, former Secretary General of the SCO.
"Under the SCO framework, guided by the Shanghai Spirit, the platform for dialogue and communication between political parties will press ahead with the establishment of a new type of international relations and propel the building of a community with a shared future for mankind," Imanaliev said.
Representatives noted that the Belt and Road Initiative is the most practical approach to achieving this goal.
"The Belt and Road Initiative has brought about hope and well-being for people in the developing world, and it is the only road which can lead the people of Asia and the world to common prosperity," Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussein said.
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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