Xi speech hailed as regional group's members step up cooperation efforts
Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are answering a call for greater collaboration under the framework of the group, say observers who point to the fresh momentum for this cause provided by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi on Friday addressed the 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO at which he encouraged the participants to build a closer SCO community with a shared future.
Aside from China, the SCO members include Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India.
Multilateralism was a key word in the president's speech, said Hamed Vafaei, director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Teheran. He endorsed Xi's emphasis on the role of multilateralism to advance the world's development.
Within the framework of the SCO, countries can plan for the future, and China can help other members of the group to put forward new development perspectives in this new historical environment, he said.
He also expressed the hope that a better world will emerge, one in which all people in all countries will enjoy a better living environment.
The meeting on Friday saw procedures launched to have Iran admitted as a member of the SCO. This development marks a "diplomatic success", Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday.
"The presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a key member of the SCO creates a strong economic connection for the people of our country, which means connecting Iran to the economic infrastructure of Asia," Raisi said.
The responsible government ministries in Iran must provide the necessary conditions to take advantage of this new opportunity as soon as possible, he said.
Friday's meeting was hosted by Tajikistan, which holds the rotating SCO presidency this year.
The forerunner of the SCO was established in Shanghai in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The admission of India and Pakistan, in 2017, came amid expansion in the organization.
Responding to Xi's remarks on Friday, foreign observers and scholars call them encouraging, and that his proposals will help the organization make greater contributions to world peace and common prosperity.
The Shanghai Spirit, the guiding ethos of the SCO, is built around the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and the pursuit of common development, said Oleg Timofeev, an associate professor at the RUDN University in Russia.
Guided by the Shanghai Spirit, the SCO fosters a sense of inclusive cooperation among the members, and it does not target third parties, he said.
Timofeev agrees with Xi's call－as set out on Friday in his speech via video link－for the member states to jointly ensure security and stability. The SCO, in tandem with the Belt and Road Initiative, will serve as the most effective platform for promoting security cooperation among the regional powers.
Stances reinforced recently by China, Russia and other SCO members against third parties' interventions in Central Asia may be a sign of things to come. The regional powers may become bolder in their rejection of such interventions and the irresponsible attempts by some to impose alien values on others and build democracy according to their own pattern, Timofeev said.
Pakistani Senator Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhary said the Shanghai Spirit encapsulates the comprehensive foundation of the organization and can serve to promote peace, stability and the SCO's influence.
B. R. Deepak, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, notes that Xi reviewed the organization's achievements and stressed the role of the Shanghai Spirit in building an SCO community with a shared future.