Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, emphasizing the need to follow the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit as we forge ahead. President Xi pointed out that under new conditions, the SCO, as an important constructive force in international and regional affairs, should keep itself well-positioned in the face of changing international dynamics, ride on the trend of the times, strengthen solidarity and cooperation and build a closer SCO community with a shared future. The speech received an enthusiastic reaction and resonance at the scene of the meeting, becoming one of the most closely watched and essential parts of the SCO summit.
At the summit, leaders of the SCO member states signed the Samarkand Declaration, expressing their unanimous attitude of ruling out bloc, ideologically charged, and confrontational approaches to current international and regional development issues, and reaffirming the importance of promoting cooperation in the development of international relations of a new kind in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as in building a community with a shared future for mankind. In this process, China’s role is evident to all. The Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI) put forward by the Chinese leader were a response to the concerns of regional countries and have become an increasingly broad and firm consensus in the international community.
In just three days from Wednesday to Friday, in addition to attending the SCO summit, President Xi also paid state visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, met with leaders of a number of countries including Russia, and participated in the sixth meeting of heads of state of China, Russia and Mongolia. He also facilitated several major cooperation projects and signed a series of agreements on several projects and bilateral cooperation documents. This most significant diplomatic event for the Chinese head of state on the eve of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was a complete success.
The latest head-of-state diplomacy brought the destinies of China and Central Asia closer together. In 2013, during his visit to Central Asia, President Xi for the first time proposed the initiative to jointly build the Silk Road Economic Belt. Nine years later, as he revisited the region, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has already yielded fruitful results in Central Asia: The “SCO Express Line” of the “Qilu” Eurasian freight train was launched; the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was accelerated, and the longest tunnel in Central Asia on the Angren-Pap railway line in Uzbekistan opened. These are visible and tangible achievements.
The initiative put forward by China, with the joint efforts of many participating countries, has been effectively transformed into the improvement of infrastructure along the BRI and the expansion and deepening of bilateral and multilateral mutually beneficial cooperation, bringing benefits to a large number of ordinary people. This is a real case of building a community with a shared future for mankind. The warm welcome the Central Asian countries gave to President Xi reflects the high recognition of China’s diplomacy and the sincere expectation for the further development of relations with China.
Central Asia, with its unbalanced development, weak foundation, and complex ethnic and religious relations, is a region at high risk of “color revolutions” and social and political unrest. In the last few years, China has brought hopeful changes to this region, and the SCO has also, to a certain extent, prevented the contradictions and differences from evolving into division and confrontation. Under the framework of the SCO, all countries have worked together to embark on a new path of “pursuing dialogue instead of confrontation, and building partnerships instead of alliances.” They have firmly supported each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns, injecting positivity and creating vitality in maintaining peace and development in the Eurasian continent.
Needless to say, peace and development are still the themes of the times, but it also encounters severe challenges. The world is neither peaceful nor tranquil. No matter where the Chinese leader goes, the emphasis is on a community with a shared future for mankind, the GDI, the GSI, and the BRI. He focuses on development and cooperation, underlining common values, interests, development and security. This represents a new direction, concept, and form of civilization in a world of change and disorder. This is not only something China talks about, but it also has been taking action in this regard, and it is one of the staunchest practitioners of multilateralism. It is hard to imagine what the world would be like without the perseverance of a responsible major country like China for peace and development.
The more turbulent the world is, the more it needs the strength to stabilize people’s hearts. Amid major changes unseen in a century in which “gray rhinos” and “black swans” are emerging in an endless stream, China itself represents a kind of stability. Under the guidance of the head-of-state diplomacy, it continues to weather storms. President Xi’s trip to Central Asia has global significance. It brings confidence and hope to the region amid crises and changes, and will continue to pool forces to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.