Asks SCO members to maintain strategic independence
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on the SCO member states to prevent external forces from destabilising them by instigating a “colour revolution” as he asked them to maintain strategic independence and build consensus on security cooperation and expand counter-terrorism cooperation.
Addressing the restricted session of the 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in the historic Uzbek city of Samarkand, Xi asked the member states of the grouping to keep the organisation on the right course, deepen cooperation in various fields, and continue to foster a favourable environment for development.
In his speech released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi said member states should build political trust, continue to support each other on matters concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns and extend strong backing for each other’s development and rejuvenation.
Also, he asked the member states to “maintain strategic independence and safeguard regional stability”, in a veiled reference to the US expanding its influence in the region amid deepening confrontation with Beijing and Moscow.
“We should prevent external forces from instigating a colour revolution,” Xi said, referring to toppling of regimes in the region and and the West Asia.
“Member states need to advocate the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and reject any attempt to create bloc confrontation and damage regional stability,” he said.
China has been critical of the Quad (US, India, Japan and Australia) and AUKUS (US, UK, Australia) alliances, alleging they were aimed at containing its rise.
Xi said “bearing in mind the security needs of countries in the region, they should build consensus on security cooperation, and work together to protect sustained stability and security in the region”.
The SCO should enhance its law enforcement cooperation and prevent terrorist and extremist forces from jeopardizing regional security.
Over the years, the SCO has developed a counter-terrorism force called Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) which was regarded as one of the organisation’s main strengths.
Security concerns in the South and Central Asian region increased after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan following the sudden withdrawal of the US troops amid reports that Al-Qarda and Islamic State militants regrouped in the war-torn country.
Xi said that the world today is not a peaceful place. “Rivalry between two sets of policy choices — unity or division, cooperation or confrontation — is getting more acute. This brings shocks to world peace and stability and is detrimental to the long-term development of the region,” he said.
“It is important to pursue win-win cooperation. We accommodate each other’s interests,” he said.
Xi also called on member states to actively promote trade and investment, liberalisation and facilitation, ensure the stable and smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains, and encourage the orderly flow of resources and factors of production, so as to realize greater economic integration and development in the region.
The leaders exchanged views on the SCO development and major international and regional issues bearing on the political and economic situation in the region, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Xi pointed out that since the founding of the SCO more than 20 years ago, it has upheld the Shanghai Spirit and succeeded in exploring a new path for the development of international organisations. “There is much we can draw on from its rich practices,” he said.
He said the member states should advance the SCO expansion process and strengthen the SCO institutions. “An increasing number of countries have applied to join the SCO family. This fully demonstrates the power of SCO’s vision and the widely shared confidence in its future,” he said as Iran has been admitted as a full member of the grouping.
Several countries in the region including Belarus have applied for membership.
The SCO should seize the opportunity and step up its work to expand the ranks of cooperation and augment the effective force for international equity and justice, Xi said. He also spoke of next month’s Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) which is widely expected to endorse an unprecedented 3rd five-year term for Xi. All his predecessors retired after two terms.
The 20th National Congress will draw up a blueprint for China’s development in the next stage, Xi said.
“No matter what changes may take place in the international landscape, China will remain firm in its commitment to peaceful, open, cooperative and common development, and continue to see the SCO as a priority in its diplomacy. China stands ready to draw on its own development to contribute to the development of countries in the region and to a better life for the people in the countries,” he said.
“It is important to treat each other as equals. We are committed to the principle of equality among all countries regardless of their size, consensus-based decision-making, and addressing issues through friendly consultations. We reject the practice of the strong bullying the weak or the big bullying the small,” he said.
The summit meeting was chaired by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, and attended by leaders of SCO member states including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.