The annual meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) opens tomorrow. Leaders of SCO member states will complete the roadmap for the five-year-old organization at the Shanghai meeting.
They will review the SCO's achievements over the past five years and define its mission in the future.
The growing participation in these annual gatherings highlights the growing role the SCO is playing on the global stage.
China has invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai to attend the meeting, while invitations have been extended to some international organizations for the first time. Meanwhile, leaders from Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India will also attend as observers.
As it has grown and matured over the past five years, the SCO has proven its viability as a vehicle to promote peace, security and development.
At a meeting in Shanghai in April 1996, the leaders of Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on deepening military trust in border regions. This gave birth to the "Shanghai Five," which changed its name to the SCO in 2001, the year which also saw Uzbekistan join the organization.
Previous SCO summits have laid solid legal foundations for realizing the goals of the organization. As two standing institutes of the SCO, the secretariat and the executive committee of its regional anti-terror body have played an important role in realizing its goals.
The summit is expected to conclude with a declaration, which will tell the world that the organization is devoted to building the region into one of lasting peace, security and prosperity.
The six heads of state will sign a host of documents dealing with the SCO's organizational development, secretariat and personnel.
Safeguarding security in the region and developing trade and investment are the SCO's strategic tasks.
Peace and security will facilitate regional economic integration.
The "Shanghai Spirit," which embodies mutual trust and benefits, equality, respect for cultural diversity and a desire for common development, will remain at the heart of everything the SCO does.
The summit's political declaration will confirm the principles the organization will be based on in the future.
Since its establishment, the SCO has expanded its mission and given top priority to maintaining regional security and stability, as well as to creating favorable conditions for sustainable development. It has never harbored ambitions of becoming a military alliance.
Mutual trust, equality, openness and dialogue have turned out to be real assets for the organization.
The past five years have offered ample evidence of the SCO's role in regional and world politics. The organization, embracing members from different civilizations, is a good showcase for its willingness and ability to seek consensus and work for common interests.
Tomorrow's meeting will make clear again the SCO's principles and strategy for development.
(China Daily June 14, 2006)