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SCO Points Way Forward
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We could to some extent understand some interested outsiders' anxiety and suspicion when the heads of state of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization countries met in Shanghai Thursday to commemorate the regional grouping's fifth anniversary.

The emergence of a new regional organization can be a disturbing factor in geopolitics when it is meant to challenge vested interests.

But this is not the case with the SCO.

In addition to the papers signed and matters discussed, SCO heads of state tried to convince suspicious outsiders that all the worries about its intentions and direction are unnecessary, and their fears are groundless.

The leaders stated that the SCO does not target any third party.

And that was not mere propaganda.

In spite of rampant rumors about anticipated ramifications, the summit focused on regional co-operation.

The fight against the "three threats" of terrorism, separatism and extremism, the very common concerns that brought these countries together five year ago, will continue to be high on the SCO's agenda. The summit endorsed a total of 10 official documents, three of which deal with the "three threats."

As national leaders reiterated at the summit, those three threats are the sole target of their collective enmity.

Beyond that, their eyes are on co-operation, with all SCO members eager to upgrade and expand their ties.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said that the key to this was to adopt a pragmatic approach towards co-operation.

He and his counterparts expressed a shared belief that the SCO is capable of delivering genuine benefits for their peoples.

The founding of the SCO Entrepreneurs' Committee and the business contracts signed at the summit demonstrated that they want such benefits to go beyond security guarantees. The strategy for regional economic co-operation, one of the 10 papers endorsed at the summit, points to member states' broader common interests and their desire to make the SCO more cohesive and sustainable.

That co-operation has to be comprehensive if the region truly aspires to be what President Hu described as "a harmonious region of lasting peace and common prosperity."

Summit participants invited all of those who doubt its intentions to appreciate how the SCO approaches international relations.

In their declaration marking the fifth anniversary of the SCO, member states pledged to contribute to a new global security framework featuring mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and mutual respect.

That is the "Shanghai Spirit." The declaration states that the "Shanghai Spirit," which calls on countries to forsake Cold War mentalities and rise above ideological differences, could assist the international community in its pursuit of a new and non-confrontational model of international relations.

That is a prescription for peace and harmony.

(China Daily June 16, 2006)


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