By Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan
Recently the 20th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held via video link where leaders of SCO member states signed and issued the “Moscow Declaration of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO Member States” and six statements on joint response efforts against the novel coronavirus infection, on countering the spread of terrorist, separatist and extremist Ideology, including online, and on countering the drug threat, etc., and approved various documents on cooperation. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech entitled “Carrying Forward the Shanghai Spirit and Deepening Solidarity and Collaboration for a Stronger Community with a Shared Future” and highly praised the SCO for playing a major constructive role in the Eurasian region and global affairs, setting an example for a new type of international relations that features mutual respect, equity, justice and win-win cooperation and injecting positive energy into international cooperation against the coronavirus.
Against the backdrop of the global pandemic and major changes unseen in a century, President Xi Jinping focuses on the current circumstances and the SCO’s long-term development, stressed that the SCO is required to carry forward the Shanghai Spirit and for the first time raised the important initiative on “four communities”.
First, we need to step up anti-epidemic cooperation and build a community of health for us all. The virus is spreading globally and constantly resurging, and only by putting the people’s interests, especially people’s lives first and maintaining solidarity in the battle against COVID-19 can the international community effectively protect people’s safety and health in each country. Xi pointed out that to fight the virus that respects no borders, we must take up the most powerful weapon of solidarity and cooperation, and rise up to the most imperative task of saving people’s lives. He proposed that countries need to strengthen joint response to COVID-19, hotline contacts be created between SCO members’ centers for disease control (CDCs) and countries continue to hold the SCO Forum on Traditional Medicine. He also promised that China will actively consider SCO countries’ need for vaccines.
Second, we need to safeguard security and stability and build a community of security for us all. Xi pointed out that security and stability are the number one precondition for a country’s development, and thus concern the core interests of all countries. All countries need to act on the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, address all forms of threats and challenges effectively, forestall terrorist, separatist and extremist attempts to exploit the pandemic for disruption, and foster a sound security environment in the region. He also stressed that the situation in Afghanistan involves the security and stability in the wider region and we need to make good use of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to help the country realize peace and reconstruction.
Third, we need to deepen practical cooperation and build a community of development for us all. Xi pointed out that true development is development for all and good development is sustainable. Countries need to be guided by the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development and open up more opportunities for practical cooperation to facilitate economic recovery and betterment of people’s lives. We need to forge greater synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative with national development strategies as well as region-wide cooperation initiatives such as the Eurasian Economic Union, enhance connectivity, facilitate reopening of economic activities and expand mutual investment among us. China supports setting up an SCO joint working group on poverty reduction and stands ready to share our good experience with other parties.
Fourth, we need to nourish people-to-people amity and build a community of cultural exchanges for us all. Xi said that each civilization is distinct and none is superior to others. We need to promote mutual learning between our civilizations and enhance good-neighborliness and friendship between our countries. This allows us to enhance public support for the SCO’s long-term development. We may support the SCO’s exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, sports, media and women’s welfare, promise to host an SCO non-governmental friendship forum next year, and will continue to hold SCO Youth Campus events, to which 600 young people will be invited in the coming three years, to deepen mutual understanding among the younger generation and bring them closer together.
President Xi Jinping’s important speech shows a big picture and a broad vision for the future, raises China’s proposition for deepening solidarity and collaboration for SCO and promoting stability and development of Afghanistan and other countries in the region, enriches the profound connotation of a community with a shared future for mankind, and draws the blueprint and points way for the development of SCO in the next stage. It will have important and positive effect on the peace and development in the region and the world, and is highly acclaimed by leaders of all the states in the meeting.
President Ghani also attended the meeting via video link. He highly approved of the importance of the Shanghai Spirit for enhancing cooperation between countries, praised China for following the Shanghai Spirit and maintaining connectivity and food supply chain between China and Afghanistan during the pandemic which contributed significantly to Afghanistan’s prevention and control of the pandemic, and looks forward to working with SCO to curb the second wave of the pandemic. President Ghani also said that Afghanistan needs to make full use of its geographical advantages, promote its resource and economic development as well as intellectual exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations, and stressed that regional and international solidarity and cooperation are required to jointly tackle terrorism which attempts to undermine peace, progress and cooperation. All of these are consonant with President Xi Jinping’s concept of “four communities” and show the consensus between them.
China and Afghanistan are friendly neighbours and for centuries have always been standing together and supporting each other while maintaining mutual nonaggression. The fine traditions of the two countries of “building friendship and partnership with neighboring countries” are fully carried forward in SCO, further promoting the development between China-Afghanistan relations. During the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, President Xi Jinping again pointed out that China needs to implement high-standard opening up, follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and break new grounds for win-win cooperation. History has proven and will continue to prove that good-neighborliness will prevail over a beggar-thy-neighbor approach, mutually beneficial cooperation will replace zero-sum game, and multilateralism will win over unilateralism. As an important founding member of SCO, China and other member states will jointly work hard to ensure compliance with each consensus reached during the Summit, continue carrying forward the Shanghai Spirit, remain committed to a win-win strategy of opening-up, further enhance the cooperation with Afghanistan under the SCO framework, constantly raise the level of cooperation in all areas, and build a stronger SCO community with a shared future.