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Political dialogue only way to resolve Afghan conflict, says SCO Secretary General

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ISLAMABAD – Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Vladimir Imamovich Norov has said that Afghan conflict can only be solved through political dialogue and not through military means and an inclusive peace process should follow the principle of ‘Afghan-led’ and ‘Afghan-owned’.

It may be mentioned here that Pakistan and China both have taken this principled position that Afghan conflict can only be solved through political dialogue and not through military means.

“Our starting point is that the conflict in Afghanistan can only be solved through political dialogue, and an inclusive peace process should follow the principle of ‘Afghan-led’ and ‘Afghan-owned’,” said the secretary general of the SCO in an exclusive interview with Global Times.

“We are ready to continue the joint work of the “SCO-Afghanistan” liaison group. The next high-level meeting of the liaison group will be held in Dushanbe in July this year. The purpose is to discuss specific measures to implement the joint “roadmap” for further action. In addition, the SCO is one of the first regional organizations to put the issue of information security on the agenda,” he added.

 

Pakistan, India addition to SCO Club welcomed

Norov said that the addition of Pakistan and India to the SCO has significantly expanded the scope of SCO activities and the cooperation in ensuring regional security. He added that the induction of Pakistan and India has also increased and deepened the economic and cultural cooperation of the SCO.

“The rising geopolitical tensions, common threats, and challenges today call for our collective efforts to build a more just and polycentric world order and to develop comprehensive programs to combat these threats,” said the SCO Secretary General.

He added that the growing negative trends in the international community and the increasing common threats and challenges facing the SCO countries make it necessary for us to coordinate our efforts in order to safeguard our positions and interests. The most important task now is to reject populism and protectionist ideas, he said during an interview with Global Times.

“In practice, the SCO followed the guidelines of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025 and is prepared to continue its efforts to expand and deepen cooperation within the SCO as well as with the international community, with a view to ensure security and prosperity in the Eurasian region,” he said.

Norov said that new threats and challenges to global and regional security posed by the pandemic, information, and communication technologies, bioterrorism, drug trafficking, and cross-border organized crime call for an integrated approach to deal with them on an inclusive and multilateral basis.

“Since its establishment, the main purpose of the SCO has been to maintain and strengthen regional peace and stability. Three months before the September 11 incident in 2001, the SCO signed the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, and for the first time clearly defined terrorism, separatism and extremism,” he added.

The adoption of the document shows that the founding countries of the SCO had a clear recognition of the new challenges and threats facing international security at the time, and have since embarked on the path of uncompromising struggle against them.

“Up to now, the SCO has formed a set of documents regulating anti-terrorism and anti-extremism. A major step taken recently in this area is the signing of the SCO Convention on Combating Extremism by the heads of member states in 2017. This convention is universal and open, and any country concerned can join,” he said.

Norov said another important cooperation direction of the SCO is to combat drug trafficking. “Of the opioids intercepted in the entire Eurasian continent each year, 40 percent are seized by our cooperative anti-drug agencies from traffickers. Since 2019, in the International Anti-Drug Operation Spider Web, practical measures have been formulated to jointly address international and regional drug problems, aiming to stop the supply of plant and synthetic drugs, including cracking down on the spread of the drugs via the dark web,” he added.

The SCO secretary general said the SCO pays special attention to the new challenges and threats created by the complex military-political and criminal situation in Afghanistan.

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Wang Yi urges SCO states to make joint efforts in building closer SCO community  

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ISLAMABAD – Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members to make joint efforts in building a closer SCO community with a shared future.

He made the remarks when delivering a video speech at the reception of the SCO Day in Beijing as SCO marked the 20th birthday of the organization.

 

SCO’s 20 years with mutual respect and cooperation 

The organization was first expanded in 2017 when India and Pakistan joined as full members. With its six founding members – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, the bloc currently has eight full members, four observer countries and six dialogue partners.

Invoking the “Shanghai Spirit,” a set of values underpinning the SCO, Wang recalled the achievements of the SCO in the past 20 years and said that the past two decades saw the development of the organization in various areas.

Wang defined the two decades with the keyword “unity,” saying that the SCO members have supported each other on issues concerning core interests and major concerns.

“Shared development” is another keyword. Wang highlighted the SCO members’ cooperation in fighting against “three evils” and joint construction of the Belt and Road.

The “three evils,” also called “three evil forces,” refer to terrorism, separatism, and extremism. The concept was first defined in June 2001 during the first SCO summit.

In 2020, the joint economy of the member states reached $18.4 trillion and the mutual trade volume reached $6.2 trillion11 and eight times higher respectively compared with the early days of the SCO, according to Wang.

He also highlighted the spike in the cultural communication among the SCO members, saying that in 2019, before the COVID-19 epidemic, more than seven million visits were made between China and other member states, 3.5 times the number in 2001.

The contributions of the SCO in upholding multilateralism and promoting political solutions to hotspot issues were also pointed out by Wang.

 

Open new chapter of SCO with greater efforts 

The Chinese Foreign Minister then presented several proposals for the organization’s future, calling on the member states to make greater contributions in promoting world peace and development.

He emphasized the importance of the “Shanghai Spirit,” which features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development, saying that the SCO should set a new example of building a community with a shared future.

The SCO should unleash new drivers of win-win cooperation, he added, referring to jointly addressing data security, biosecurity, further cooperation in digital economy and artificial intelligence, and promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

He said that the organization should strengthen exchanges and cooperation among the youth, women, think tanks and the media.

The SCO should shoulder new responsibilities for global governance, promote genuine multilateralism and uphold the common values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom for all humankind, he added.

 

 

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SCO forum pledges cooperation, deep integration of industrial, supply & value chains

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SCO states agree on unimpeded regional economic circulation, digital economy, e-commerce, artificial intelligence & smart city development

 

ISLAMABAD – Shanghai Cooperation Organization Forum on People-to-People Friendship has vowed to expand practical cooperation, deep integration of industrial, supply and value chains, unimpeded regional economic circulation, and more cooperation in areas such as digital economy, e-commerce, artificial intelligence and smart city with a view to improving people’s well-being and building a green and open regional economy characterized by innovation and coordination and shared by all.

The pledge was made at the Wuhan Initiative of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Forum on People-to-People Friendship held jointly by the Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and Hubei Provincial People’s Government jointly held the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Forum on People-to-People Friendship in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China.

Leaders of SCO member states, observer states, and dialogue partners as well as representatives of non-governmental friendship organizations, under the theme of “promoting people-to-people friendship and carrying forward the Shanghai Spirit”, had in-depth discussions on topics such as think tank exchanges, sister city cooperation, health, rural development and poverty reduction, high-quality connectivity, and new media training.

They also reached a broad consensus on carrying forward the “Shanghai Spirit”, deepening solidarity and collaboration, maintaining peace and stability of countries in the region, promoting common development and making greater contributions towards building a community with a shared future for humanity.

The Forum realizes that the SCO plays a pivotal role in respecting civilization diversity, supporting the people of all countries in independently choosing the path for development, establishing equal partnerships, safeguarding peace and stability of our region and promoting common development. The SCO has become a comprehensive regional cooperation organization uniting 18 countries and a population of over 3 billion.

The Forum speaks highly of the non-governmental organizations of SCO countries for their solidarity and mutual assistance in the fight against COVID-19, and underlines that only through solidarity and cooperation can help the international community overcome global challenges such as COVID-19 and safeguard the common home of mankind.

The Forum encourages greater mutual learning between civilizations, good-neighborliness and friendship among countries, and the involvement of women, youth, children, and other groups in fruitful bilateral and multilateral exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, academic research, sports, media, tourism, science and technology, health, traditional medicine, folk arts and crafts, and environmental protection to form an all-dimensional, in-depth, and multi-channel cooperation framework.

The Forum believes that non-governmental organizations need to be more active in facilitating communication, reflecting the will of the people, and pooling together people’s efforts. It highly praises the non-governmental organizations of the SCO countries for expanding partnership networks, leveraging their own strengths, promoting friendly cooperation, and making concerted efforts to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.

The Forum supports the initiative of Tajikistan as the current holder of the rotating presidency of the SCO to hold the SCO Women’s Forum and other activities, and supports Tajikistan’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Tajikistan’s SCO Center for Friendship and Cooperation, and China-Tajikistan Friendship Association to actively participate in and hold a series of activities to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the SCO.

The Forum proposes that non-governmental organizations of member states, observer states and dialogue partners take the 20th anniversary of the founding of the SCO in 2021 as an opportunity to deepen mutual understanding and traditional friendship and actively promote the cause of people-to-people friendship of the SCO in the post-epidemic era.

China is willing to jointly hold activities to facilitate people-to-people friendship and promote the building of a community of health, security, development, and humanities together with the Indian Council of World Affairs, Kazakhstan’s Children’s Fund, Kyrgyz’s National Assembly, China-Pakistan Study Center of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, Pakistan’s Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Russia-China Friendship Association, Russian Children’s Fund, Tajikistan’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Friendship and Cooperation Centre in Tajikistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Center for Public Diplomacy in Uzbekistan, Afghan’s Women’s Education Center, Belarus’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Iran-China Friendship Association, Mongolian Peace and Friendship Organization, Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Armenia’s China-Eurasia Center for Strategic Studies.

The Forum believes that sub-national cooperation provides a solid foundation and source of strength for the long-term friendship between countries. It also functions as a propeller for friendship among peoples. All countries should, on the basis of equality, openness, justice and mutual benefits, take the opportunity of the Forum to carry out friendly exchanges and win-win cooperation at the sub-national level in various fields, promote personnel exchanges and cooperation facilitation, and boost the establishment of sister provinces, states, and cities.

The Forum suggests that Hubei and SCO countries strengthen pragmatic cooperation in fields such as trade, logistics, conventions and exhibitions, infrastructure, and health. We have taken note that China stands ready to establish a China-SCO Health Cooperation Demonstration Area in Hubei Province firstly and setting up a China-SCO Friendship Expo Park in Wuhan City. It will promote the establishment of a House of Friendship for the SCO non-governmental activities in Wuhan City, and suggests member states, observer states, and dialogue partners to establish their House of Friendship.

 

 

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China urges SCO states to jointly build a global community of health for all

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SCO Forum on People-to-People Friendship further cement public health security governance

ISLAMABAD – In a bid to help fight covid-19 and other infectious diseases, China has proposed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries to further strengthen the governance of public health security and jointly build a global community of health for all.

During a special Online Health Session of the SCO Forum on People-to-People Friendship held in Wuhan, China proposed building an SCO hotline network for the Centers for Disease Control (CDCs) of the SCO and a National Lab for Infectious Disease Detection, Monitoring and Early Warning to regularly carry out training programs for public health professionals, improve response strategies for public health emergencies, and enhance the joint prevention and control capabilities of regional infectious diseases.

“In pursuit of a healthy and safe future for humanity, we will earnestly implement the Statement by the Council of Heads of State of the SCO Member States on Joint Response Efforts Against the Novel Coronavirus Infection and commit ourselves to safeguarding the public health and well-being of the people of the SCO countries. We will support and promote the implementation of the Common Projects of the SCO Public Health Security Technology Network and the Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases,” the proposal made at the Expert Initiative on the China-SCO Health Cooperation Demonstration Area said.

According to the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan of the SCO Member States to Counter the Threats of Epidemics in the Region, China will prevent and control infectious and non-communicable diseases, respond to health emergencies through control measures, and eliminate the impact of Covid-19. We oppose stigmatization of novel corona-virus (Covid-19).

“We propose to strengthen cooperation in the medical and health industries of SCO countries. China is willing to take the lead in promoting the formulation of a list of drugs and medical devices that are produced by various countries and meet the regulatory standards of SCO countries and regions, providing them to people of all countries at the most favorable price possible, and cracking down on the sale of counterfeit drugs,” the statement added.

China also suggested that countries formulate special visa policies based on their medical needs and promote medical tourism. The Chinese Hospital Association (CHA) supports Tajikistan, the current holder of the rotating presidency of the SCO Summit 2021, to hold the SCO Hospital Cooperation Alliance event in order to promote exchanges and training programs between medical experts and enterprises.

In November 2019, China carried out the Lifeline Express International Sight Saving Mission in Uzbekistan. Under the coordination of the Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Committee of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Lifeline Express Hong Kong Foundation, the International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center of the National Health Committee (IHECC), and the Peking University People’s Hospital all participated in this project and will continue their efforts in cooperation with other countries.

“We propose to strengthen the openness and transparency of healthcare-related information-sharing among SCO members, encourage and guide civil societies and social organizations in China and other SCO member countries to participate through forums and meetings, and to establish a multi-subject, multi-level, and multi-form cooperation mechanism led by the government that involves hospitals, medical colleges, research institutions, and healthcare organizations,” the statement added.

The China-SCO Health Cooperation Demonstration Area advocates for and takes the lead in pursuing cooperation in infectious disease control, medical and healthcare system, traditional medicine, and other fields. It will work with partners from all sides to jointly build a community of common health for mankind and protect the lives and health of people across the world.

 

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