Chinese President Xi Jinping just concluded his two-nation trip on September 16 after wrapping up attendance to the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and state visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
In a packed three-day schedule, Xi intensively attended nearly 30 events, featuring multilateral and bilateral agendas, and covering security and development issues. There are many highlights and fruitful results, which have strongly pushed the SCO expansion a new step forward and brought China's relations with relevant countries to a new level.
Global experts, scholars and officials have spoken highly of Xi's appeal for a closer SCO community with a shared future, as well as China's initiatives and its role in the SCO community and beyond, expecting the organization to boost stability and development across the Eurasian continent.
OPEN NEW STAGE OF SCO DEVELOPMENT UNDER SHANGHAI SPIRIT
Since its founding in 2001, the SCO, now with eight full members, four observer countries and multiple dialogue partners, has become not only a strong pillar of global peace and development, but also a major force for international equity and justice.
A man rides past a logo of the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 12, 2022. (XINHUA)
In his speech at the SCO summit on Friday, Xi summarized the successful experience of the organization, namely, adhering to political trust, win-win cooperation, equality between nations, openness and inclusiveness as well as equity and justice.
These five points fully embody the Shanghai Spirit -- mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development, he said.
"We owe SCO's remarkable success to the Shanghai Spirit. And we will continue to follow its guidance as we forge ahead," Xi said.
Gulru Gezer, a Turkish foreign policy advisor and former diplomat, views the Shanghai Spirit as "an example for a newer way of cooperation," which is especially important when "the world needs new patterns of relationships" in a multilateral era.
As the globe is undergoing accelerating changes unseen in a century, and a new phase of uncertainty and transformation, the Shanghai Spirit could be "instrumental in building bridges between the nations and continents, fostering economic integration of the regions, and mitigating many regional and global challenges," said B. R. Deepak, chairperson of the Center for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies at the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Under the joint efforts of Xi and the other leaders, the summit adopted more than 40 documents covering such areas as economy, finance, science and technology, culture and people-to-people exchanges, institution building and external interactions. It also released a number of statements and documents on safeguarding global food security, international energy security, addressing climate change, and maintaining a secure, stable and diversified supply chain.
Of special note is that an increasing number of countries have applied to join the SCO family. At the summit, Iran officially became a full SCO member. China and other SCO members also started the procedure for Belarus' accession, granted Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar the status of SCO dialogue partners, and reached agreement on admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners.
Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, director of the Islamabad-based Centre of South Asia and International Studies, believes that the SCO's principle of non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party has won the hearts of many countries; and that its modern visions on politics, security, economy, and human society are pretty attractive to countries in the region and beyond.
WRITE NEW CHAPTER OF CHINA-KAZAKHSTAN, CHINA-UZBEKISTAN FRIENDSHIP
Back in 2013, during his Central Asia tour, Xi first put forward the Silk Road Economic Belt, a component of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in Kazakhstan, and made a special visit to Uzbekistan's Samarkand. The Silk Road Economic Belt has since closely connected China with the two Central Asian countries.
The wind farm, with 40 wind turbines and a combined capacity of 100 megawatts, is jointly-held by China Power International Holding and Visor Kazakhstan. (XINHUA)
This time, Xi paid visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on his first overseas trip since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which clearly reflects the high-level and uniqueness of China's relations with the two countries, as well as the close friendship and deep trust between the heads of state.
During formal talks with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Xi said that China is ready to work with Kazakhstan in firmly supporting each other's development and rejuvenation, and that the unbreakable friendship between China and Kazakhstan will contribute to the growth of positive and progressive forces in the world and to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
When talking with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Xi pointed out that China and Uzbekistan have always respected each other, enjoyed good-neighborliness and worked in partnership for mutual benefits. China is ready to work with Uzbekistan to implement the vision of a China-Uzbekistan community with a shared future, and deepen all-round cooperation for mutual benefit, he said.
Xi received the Order of the Golden Eagle awarded by Tokayev, and the first Order of Friendship conferred by Mirziyoyev, and signed and issued joint statements respectively with the two colleagues, comprehensively summarizing the achievements and experience accumulated during the past 30 years of diplomatic relations and drawing a blueprint for future development.
Xi's visit demonstrates "the important role that Kazakhstan plays in China's foreign policy," said Gulnar Shaimergenova, director of Kazakhstan's China Studies Center, who expects the "very significant diplomatic event" to add strong impetus to the further deepening of bilateral relations.
"I believe that the visit of the leader of China will be productive for the further development of bilateral relations in all areas," said former SCO Secretary-General Bolat Nurgaliyev.
Azamat Seitov, a professor at the National University of Uzbekistan, observed that cooperation between Uzbekistan and China in investment and technology is booming, which will accelerate technological modernization and diversification of the Uzbek economy, and enhance the country's export potential.
INJECT POSITIVITY INTO EURASIA'S PEACE, DEVELOPMENT
In Samarkand, Xi attended bilateral meetings with 10 leaders participating in the SCO summit, and the meeting of heads of state of China, Russia and Mongolia. The events play an important role in guiding the development of bilateral relations and boosting regional peace and stability.
These diplomatic efforts have shown "China is willing to work with the SCO community to deepen cooperation in law enforcement, security and defense, and combatting drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and terrorism," among other fields, said Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh.
Guests visit the 2021 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) International Investment and Trade Expo in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, April 26, 2021. (XINHUA)
As a positive force in the SCO, China-proposed initiatives "such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative are essential to reinforce multilateralism, international cooperation and solidarity to address global challenges and concerns for common interests," he added.
In the past years, the SCO has unleashed enormous development opportunities for the region and the wider world by building up connectivity under the Belt and Road framework, advancing synergy between the initiative and development plans of regional countries. Since 2001, the combined economic size of the SCO countries has risen around 13-fold.
These years, China and other member states have been using the SCO as a platform to promote the synergy between the China-proposed BRI and development strategies of other countries, said Selcuk Colakoglu, director of the Turkish Center of Asia Pacific Studies. "Today, thanks to the efforts of the SCO, member countries' borders are safer and more secure, and their economies are more integrated."
Calling the SCO "a role model for other regional organizations," Colakoglu said: "as one of the founding members of the SCO, China has always acted as responsible, cooperative, and inclusive within the organization to facilitate further integration."
In a highly interconnected world where non-traditional threats are more challenging, countries can promote peace and preserve the gains of development only through common development and cooperation, said Pramod Jaiswal, research director of Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement.
Therefore, China's vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind is peculiarly worth appreciation, Jaiswal observed, adding that he believes China has been playing a crucial role and will encourage more participation in the cause.