On July 5 this year, heads of State of the "Shanghai Five" (of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) met in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan to review and sum up the "Shanghai Five's" development process over the past few years, probe deeply into a series of current major and urgent international and regional problems. They reached a wide-ranging consensus on constructing an edifice featuring good neighborliness, friendship, and peace and cooperation geared to the 21st century.
The meeting represents a gala event of the "Shanghai Five" at the turn of the century, it is of important historic significance of carrying on the past and opening a way for the future. The " Dushanbe Statement" signed by the heads of the five countries indicates that the five countries will further strengthen and develop neighborly and friendly cooperative relations in the new century and fully reflects the common wishes of the people of the five countries to become "good neighbors, good partners and good friends" forever.
The "Shanghai Five" mechanism was born on April 26, 1996. Its initial intention is to strengthen military trust along the border areas of the five countries mentioned above, and to seek border peace. China and Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have a common boundary line of more than 7,000 km long. It is well known that heavy troops were once deployed on both sides of this boundary line, making the situation there very tense.
After humanity entered the 1990s, the five countries, with a view to going with the development trend of the times, were determined to turn hostility into friendship and to ensure the peace and tranquility along the border. To this end, as early as the beginning of the 1990s, China and the above-mentioned four countries began negotiations on arms reduction along the border and on the strengthening of military mutual trust along the border areas. On the basis of active progress achieved through the above-said negotiations, on April 26, 1996, heads of the five countries met for the first time in Shanghai and signed the Agreement on Strengthening Military Trust along the Border Regions. On April 24, 1997, heads of the five countries held the second meeting in Moscow and signed the Agreement on Reducing Each Other's Military Forces along the Border Regions.
The signing of the above-mentioned two accords is of major political and military significance. It is conducive to safeguarding peace, stability and tranquility along the border areas of the five countries, facilitates the development of the five countries' relations featuring neighborliness, friendship, equality, trust and mutual benefit and has made historic contributions to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole.
Due to well-known reasons, there had long been disputes over territory and boundary between China and the former Soviet Union. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, China and Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan became neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. Since the "Shanghai Five" mechanism started operation in 1996, the five countries, cherishing an urgent sense of "putting an end to the past, and opening up a way to the future" and following the principles of "conducting consultation on an equal footing and making mutual accommodation and mutual concession", have achieved substantive progress in their solution of the boundary questions left over from the past after several years of unremitting efforts.
The successive solutions of the boundary questions between China and the four other countries is a major, praiseworthy event in the history of international relations, that has "made contributions to the present times and will bring benefits for ages to come". It has not only promoted the continual development of the five countries' ties featuring neighborliness, friendship, mutual trust and all-round cooperation, but has also made important contributions to peace and stability in the Central Asian region, the whole of Asia and the world at large.
At present, the border regions of the five countries have become links of neighborliness, friendship and cooperation, they have set an example for other countries around the world to settle their problems left over from the past.
In recent years, the "three evil forces" represented by international terrorism, religious extremism and national separatism have got united in doing evils in Central Asia and its neighboring Caucasus region, their activities have become increasingly rampant and have thus posed serious threats to peace and stability in the region, the entire Asia and the world as a whole.
The five countries are faced with the common tasks of combating national separatism, attacking international terrorism and religious extremism and other international evil forces. In the past few years, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have strengthened cooperation within the framework of the "Shanghai Five", have stepped up their efforts to launch unceasing attacks on the international vicious forces to safeguard peace and stability in this region.
To this end, the five countries will sign treaties and agreements on multilateral cooperation. Responsible members of frontier guard, customs and security departments of the five countries set to meet regularly and to launch maneuvers against terrorism and violence according to circumstances within the framework of the five countries.
The three meetings of the heads of the five countries all stressed that the various parties should "not allow the use of their territories to engage in activities harmful to the sovereignty, security and social order of anyone of the five countries".
After nearly five years of efforts, the "Shanghai Five" mechanism has undergone major changes, developing from the early two major issues of how to solve the boundary disputes among the five countries and to strengthen military mutual trust, to developing mutually beneficial cooperation among the five nations in the political, security, trade and economic fields; from the mechanism for meeting between heads of the five countries, to meetings between high-ranking officials with the security, national defense and foreign affairs departments of the five governments, thus forming a multi-level and multi-sphere mechanism for meetings; and developing from the early bilateral cooperation to a multilateral cooperation mechanism.
The birth of the "Shanghai Five" mechanism is a major event in the 1990s international relations, the cooperative mechanism established and continuously developing within this framework demonstrates the distinguishing characteristics of the times, that features neighborliness and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit, unity and cooperation and common development, it has provided successful examples and useful experiences for the international community to establish and develop good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation between neighboring countries by transcending the Cold War mentality, it has played an important role in maintaining regional security and stability, it is conducive to accelerating the process of world polarization and establishing a fair and reasonable international political and economic new order. Practice has indicated that the "Shanghai Five" mechanism not only conforms to the common interests of the people of this region, but conforms to the trend of the times and thus has strong vitality.
This article is the year-end International Report published on by People's Daily(Chinese, 12/18/2000).
(12/21/2000 People's Daily)