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China welcomes SCO expansion, calls for upholding "Shanghai Spirit"

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed welcome Friday over the planned enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and called on the member states to uphold the "Shanghai Spirit" for common development.

Xi and other SCO leaders passed a resolution Friday on starting the procedures of granting India and Pakistan full membership of the organization at the 15th SCO summit in the southwestern Russian city of Ufa.

Currently, both India and Pakistan are observers of the SCO. Pakistan applied for a full membership in 2006 and India in 2014.

Also Friday, the SCO elevated Belarus to the status of observer from dialogue partner, and took in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal as new dialogue partners.

China believes that the admission of new forces into the SCO will inject new impetus into the organization's all-ranging cooperation, Xi said while delivering a speech at the summit.

He said that the SCO should continue to expand external exchanges with other regional and international organizations, and improve the dialogue and cooperation mechanism with its observers and dialogue partners.

Founded in 2001, the SCO now has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its full members, with Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey as dialogue partners.

"Shanghai Spirit"

In his speech, Xi called for upholding the "Shanghai Spirit" of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, in a bid to build a community of shared destiny in the region.

Over the past 15 years, the "Shanghai Spirit" has become the foundation of the SCO for its existence and growth, and the spirit represents the direction of contemporary international relations, Xi said.

He said that the SCO should continue to take the "Shanghai Spirit" as a guide to safeguard international fairness and justice, advocate multilateralism and the ideal of opening, respect each other's interests, oppose interference in other countries' internal affairs, solve disputes through peaceful means, and boost common development with the win-win ideal.

The SCO should continue to stand as a staunch force of safeguarding the outcomes of the victory of WWII, and allow no one to distort history and trample on peace.

On regional security, the president called on SCO member states to forcefully boost cooperation in terrorism fighting, drugs control and border defense, and strengthen policy coordination to maintain security and stability of member states.

The SCO should enhance security cooperation with Afghanistan, help its security forces strengthen capability building, and play a bigger role in the process of national reconciliation and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan, Xi said.

China welcomes the signing of an agreement on border defense at the summit by SCO member states, and is willing to work with all sides to draw up a treaty on anti-extremism, he said.

Practical Cooperation

Xi said China is willing to strengthen investment cooperation with other SCO members via the platform of the China-Eurasia Economic Cooperation Fund and the Silk Road Fund, focusing on large infrastructure projects, resources exploitation, industry and finance.

The proposal to establish an SCO development bank is a strategic move to advance multilateral cooperation within the SCO and bears great significance for its future development, he said.

He said the SCO members should strive for early establishment of their own financing vehicles to serve multilateral projects of shared benefits, as well as the economic development of each member.

Noting that connectivity of transportation facilities should be prioritized in regional cooperation, Xi called on member states to quicken the implementation of the Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport.

China will provide funds to support the feasibility study and plans of the projects of transportation connectivity, he said.

In the next few years, China will push for the completion of 4,000 kilometers of railway and over 10,000 kilometers of highway within the region, he said, adding that by then, a layout of interconnected transportation will be basically in place.

He also called on the member states to deepen industrial capacity cooperation and push forward the building of industrial parks in every member state.

China is carrying out the three-year plan of training 2,000 personnel for the SCO member states, he said, adding that China will continue to provide technical assistance for them and help them enhance capacity building.

Xi urged SCO member states to expand people-to-people exchanges, saying that China will invite 200 young people from the SCO member states every year to participate in a youth exchange camp program, which will be held in China from 2016 to 2021.

China will complete its summer camp program for 2,000 primary and middle school students from other member states by 2018, he added.

Consensus Reached

As the international political and economic landscape is undergoing profound changes and the world multi-polarization has become a major trend, the heads of state of SCO member countries agreed to jointly address conventional and non-conventional challenges and threats to safeguard the comprehensive security.

They decided to beef up their cooperation in fighting the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

The heads of state voiced their support to the construction of China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt.

They believe that all SCO member states should ensure a sustainable economic and social development in their own countries, facilitate trade and investment within the organization and improve infrastructure.

They agreed to speed up cooperation in such areas as industry, transportation, telecommunication, agriculture and innovation.

The leaders also decided to deepen cooperation in culture, science and technology, health, tourism and sports.

They highly evaluated the commemorative activities held by SCO member states to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

They expressed profound gratitude to those people who made significant sacrifice and suffered great material loss to free the world from Nazi's oppression and destruction.

The SCO leaders signed the Ufa Declaration and an agreement on border defense cooperation at the annual summit. They also approved the organization's development strategy until 2025, a 2016-2018 cooperation program on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, and the drafting of a treaty on anti-extremism.

A press communique, a statement on the 70th anniversary of the World Anti-Fascist War and WWII, and a statement on the drugs issue were released at the summit.

The SCO decided that Uzbekistan will host the 16th summit in its capital Tashkent in 2016.

[Source: Xinhua, Ufa, Rus, 10Jul15]

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