By Gong Ming, People’s Daily
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries have maintained sound development since the regional organization was established.
Since the SCO’s founding in 2001, the total economy and foreign trade volume of its member states have grown by 12 percent on average per year. In 2020, the two figures have increased eleven fold and eight fold respectively.
Last year, the combined economic size of SCO member states exceeded $20 trillion, taking a larger share of the global economy and contributing more to global growth.
Russia’s Sputnik said that over the past 20 years, SCO member states have achieved fruitful results in trade, investment and engineering contracting, and enhanced regional connectivity, which boosted economic development and livelihood improvement. As the SCO further expands its membership, it will enjoy greater potential for cooperation and brighter prospects.
The in-depth Belt and Road cooperation is leading to closer alignment among the development strategies of SCO countries and an improving level of trade and investment. A high-quality regional connectivity network is taking shape, and highlights are showing in agricultural and regional cooperation.
Melons from Uzbekistan, sunflower seed oil from Kazakhstan, and cherries from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have become available on Chinese markets, and China-Central Asia cooperation has expanded from the traditional areas of petroleum, natural gas and mineral resource exploitation to electricity, telecommunication, chemical engineering, agriculture and commercial services.
A record 15,000 China-Europe freight train trips were made in 2021, and the first China-Russia highway bridge opened to traffic. Besides, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway is well underway.
SCO member states firmly safeguard the multilateral trading system and promote synergy between the Belt and Road cooperation and the development strategies of various countries and regional cooperation initiatives such as the Eurasian Economic Union, so as to smoothen the regional economic cycle and protect the security of global industrial and supply chains, as well as international food and energy security.
In March last year, the 75th session of the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 75/268 that recognized SCO’s constructive role in ensuring peace and sustainable development, promoting regional cooperation and enhancing good-neighborly partnerships. It said that the quality of cooperation among SCO member states has significantly improved, which further enhanced the role of the multilateral mechanism.
SCO countries boast rich resources, huge market size, strong capability in scientific innovation and other unique advantages. They enjoy robust development momentum and bright cooperation prospects.
In recent years, the SCO has approved a series of documents on enhancing cooperation in digitalization, telecommunication technology and scientific innovation. SCO member states all agree to deepen exchanges in the digital economy to make their own economies more innovative.
Zhang Ming, Secretary-general of the SCO, noted that SCO countries have rich human and financial resources, adequate raw materials and sound technological potential. These countries’ efforts to share their development outcomes in the digital economy and launch digital trade cooperation will promote regional peace and stability and sustainable development, and create broader prospects for the implementation of the Global Development Initiative.
Since this year, SCO member states have reached new consensus in their cooperation in technology, energy, and finance, to seek new directions and opportunities for regional development.
In April, the 6th meeting of ministers of science and technology of the SCO adopted the Action Plan on Scientific and Technological Cooperation in Priority Areas for 2022-2025, the Mechanism for Implementing Joint Multilateral Research and Innovation Projects within the SCO Framework and the Plan of Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence.
In June, the 2nd meeting of energy ministers of the SCO was convened. SCO member states agreed to coordinate energy security and low-carbon energy development, actively build demonstration projects of renewable energy, deepen cooperation in innovative sci-tech development and upgrade energy cooperation.
In August, the SCO Inter-bank Consortium signed a cooperation document. Member banks will launch financial cooperation in infrastructure connectivity, low-carbon development, digital economy and livelihood, to offer strong support for the region’s stable economic recovery.
As of the end of June, China’s direct investment in other SCO member states totaled $37.5 billion. To help with SCO countries’ post-pandemic recovery, China will strive to reach $2.3 trillion in its cumulative trade with other SCO countries in the next five years.
Earlier this year, the China Development Bank set up a special loan for the second phase of the SCO Inter-bank Consortium, with a scale of 30 billion yuan to support high-quality joint construction of key areas of the project under the Belt and Road Initiative.
China is building a new development paradigm and striving for high-quality development. It will work with all relevant parties to implement the Global Development Initiative, make more cooperation highlights, and improve practical cooperation, so as to achieve new achievements in regional economic cooperation and create a brighter future together with the SCO.