Belt and Road Initiative turbocharges Shanghai Cooperation Organization's development

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BISHKEK, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- "The SCO is the guarantor of peace and progressive development," reads an electronic display standing erect at an intersection in downtown Bishkek.

These words rendered on the screen in four languages -- Kyrgyz, Russian, Chinese and English -- tell how much the world's largest and most populous regional institution has valued and championed the main theme of the times -- peace and development.

On Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states met in the Central Asian city for the organization's 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government, the first of its kind since its latest expansion more than three months ago.

Among all the topics on the agenda was the issue of peace and development through coordination and cooperation. SCO members should keep in mind the founding aspiration and uphold the key to success, Li said in his speech at the meeting.

In his speech, Li used the word "development" 13 times. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Akylbek Zhaparov mentioned the word "develop" 15 times when addressing the council. In the joint communique issued after the meeting, "development" was repeated about 30 times.

Since its inception, the SCO has transcended differences among countries in ideology, social system and development path, and gathered collective strength to the fullest extent in addressing common challenges. It has created a new model of cooperation based on partnership and dialogue, rather than alliance or confrontation.

Recent data showed that the combined GDP of SCO members has reached some 25 trillion U.S. dollars, accounting for nearly 25 percent of global GDP, which is over 13 times larger than that in 2001 when the SCO was founded.

"The SCO has continuously expanded the depth of cooperation, promoting regional collaboration and fostering the development of member states," said Gu Wei, an associate researcher at the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

It has been working with international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and ASEAN, participating in global governance, and contributing to global development and security, Gu told Xinhua.

"The SCO can be a stabilizing factor in ensuring the resolution of issues concerning energy resources, water, food and the economy," said Igor Shestakov, an expert from Kyrgyzstan, adding that China plays an important role in the economic cooperation of the SCO, especially within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In the eyes of Sergei Sanakoyev, president of the Russian-Chinese Analytical Center, "the economic benefits of developing and implementing the BRI plans are undeniable" for SCO members and beyond.

"I have just returned from China, where I participated in the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The initiative is becoming a new factor in global development. It involves the construction of a new economic order based on very simple and understandable principles of equality, mutual respect, and mutual benefit," said Sanakoyev.

For him, as about three-quarters of the world's countries are participating in the initiative, it is natural for the SCO members to play an active role, aligning their development plans with the initiative and considering it a crucial factor for their own as well as the region's development.

The BRI is a unique platform for the joint development of the participating economies. The faster and more effectively the goals proposed by China's leadership within the initiative are achieved, the quicker and more assuredly the economies involved in this initiative will develop, said Kyrgyz political scientist Kubanychbek Taabaldiev.

Over the past decade, major projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, SCO training and demonstration base for agricultural technology exchange and China-SCO local economic and trade cooperation demonstration zone have brought tangible benefits to local people. With the assistance of the BRI, a comprehensive infrastructure network, including roads, oil and gas pipelines, and railways, has gradually developed in the SCO region.

"The BRI offers three advantages in terms of aligning with the development plans of SCO members. Firstly, the BRI embraces diversity in the development of various countries and avoids pushing for a one-size-fits-all development model. Secondly, the initiative is tailored to the specific development needs of individual countries, offering more precise cooperation support," said Gu.

"Lastly, the initiative is extensive, as it encompasses not just collaboration with China but also encourages mutual cooperation among other participating countries in the initiative. This can expand the scope of cooperation, harness complementary strengths, and enhance the effectiveness of collaboration," she told Xinhua.

In his speech on Thursday, Premier Li said Belt and Road cooperation has brought tangible results to the world over the past decade, paving the way for shared development, opportunities, and prosperity. The Belt and Road has become the most popular international public goods and the largest international cooperation platform in the past 10 years.

With the BRI serving as an engine, "the current key indicators of China and several leading SCO member countries indicate that the organization's position on the international stage is strengthening, making it (SCO) increasingly attractive to many countries worldwide," said Taabaldiev. Enditem

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