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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: June 18, 2010 NO. 25 JUNE 24, 2010
Coming of Age
At its annual summit, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization attunes to a changing world

The SCO member countries also support each other's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, while opposing interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries and actions that may spark regional tensions.

These countries hold the view that differences should be settled through dialogue and consultations by political and diplomatic means, the Declaration said.

While offering to provide humanitarian aid, Russia ruled out the possibility of immediately sending troops to Kyrgyzstan, considering the riots an "internal conflict."

On nuclear non-proliferation, the SCO members said they stood for honoring the provisions of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, including provisions on peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The establishment of the Central Asian nuclear weapon-free zone will be a major contribution to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and improving regional and global security, the Declaration said.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan signed a treaty in 2006 on the Central Asian nuclear weapon free zone. In accord with its provisions, they pledge not to manufacture, acquire, test or possess nuclear weapons.

Unrestricted deployment of anti-missile systems may become a destabilizing factor, possibly leading to proliferation, the Declaration warned, in a reference to the United States' planned deployment of anti-missile systems and interceptors in Eastern Europe.

Trade, finance and openness

Pan Guang, Director of the Center for SCO Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said he believes coping with the impact of the global financial crisis remains a major challenge for the SCO. The organization should establish a financing institution to mitigate member countries' capital shortages, and should promote the use of the member states' own currencies in regional trade, he said.

In a bid to address the aftermath of the financial crisis, the SCO will commit to facilitating trade and investment, pursuing joint transportation and communications programs and helping enhance the economic competitiveness of its member countries.

Besides responding to these heated issues, the SCO Summit made a breakthrough in improving its internal mechanisms with the adoption of the regulations on new member admission and rules of procedure, Zhao said.

SCO members have long held different views on admission of new members, he said. To reach a consensus, they have held more than 10 rounds of consultations during the past two years.

Conformity to the SCO's purposes and agreements will probably be the main criterion for assessing applicants, Zhao said. There would be no restrictions based on geographic regions or political systems.

The adoption of these two documents was a sign showing that the SCO has moved into a stage of "maturity and all-round development," Zhao said. They also sent a clear signal the SCO will reach out to more countries and international organizations.

The six-member SCO currently has four observers—Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran—and two dialogue partners—Sri Lanka and Belarus.

Representatives from these countries, as well as from international organizations such as the UN, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations attended this year's SCO Summit. Turkmen President of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Afghan President Hamid Karzai also participated as guests of the host country.

The extensive participation underscored the SCO's commitment to openness, transparency and peace, while indicating its rising influence, Zhao said.

China's Proposals

At the SCO Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on June 11, Chinese President Hu Jintao called for the enhancing of cooperation among SCO members, while urging new cooperation models and suggesting identifying non-resource sectors as a new priority for economic cooperation.

In a speech at the summit, Hu called on member states to strengthen solidarity and mutual trust to consolidate the political foundation for the organization's development.

SCO member states should continue to increase strategic dialogue and policy coordination and cooperate closely on issues of sovereignty, security and development, he said.

He urged the SCO to step up its counterterrorism efforts and build a safe environment for the organization's development. The SCO members should effectively increase the capability of fighting the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism in the region.

To that end, Hu asked the member states to enhance their efforts and cooperation in areas such as intelligence sharing, border management and control, anti-drug trafficking, transnational crimes and personnel training and exchanges.

At the same time, the potential for cooperation among the SCO members should be fully tapped, he said.

Members should work to facilitate customs clearance, quality inspection and transportation, develop new cooperation models, study ways to establish an SCO regional e-commerce platform and conduct joint studies on agricultural cooperation.

"We propose non-resource sectors be identified as a new priority for the SCO's regional economic cooperation," the Chinese president said.

The SCO should expand friendly exchanges and firm up the cultural foundation for the organization's development, Hu added.

He suggested holding a meeting of health ministers to extend cooperation on the prevention and treatment of epidemic diseases and public health. China was also ready to provide more teachers, textbooks and training opportunities for the teaching and study of the Chinese language in other SCO member states.

Hu, meanwhile, urged improvements in the SCO's internal governance and decision-making mechanisms.

"China supports the SCO in enhancing institutional development in order to better facilitate practical cooperation among its member states," he said.

Hu also suggested promoting transparency and inclusiveness to create a favorable environment for the development of the organization.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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