As a comprehensive regional organization with extensive influence, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has played an important role in preserving regional stability and prosperity and set an example for the new-type international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.
In particular, the SCO always prioritizes maintaining regional security and stability and has made great achievements in security cooperation, not only creating a good environment for win-win cooperation among countries in the region, but also setting an example for building the community of shared destiny for mankind.
Actively practice new security outlook
The SCO is a new-type regional cooperation mechanism created after the Cold War. Its predecessor, the Shanghai Five, started with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan making arrangements for military mutual trust and mutual disarmament in the border area.
From the very beginning, the Shanghai Five was committed to eliminating the security hazards left from the Cold War period, and creating the new security thinking characterized by "promoting security through cooperation and solving international disputes through dialogue". Later it expanded the cooperation to maintaining regional security and stability to great success.
Since it was established 17 years ago, the SCO has adhered to the principles of openness, transparency and not targeting any third party. It stresses partnership rather than alliance among the member states, doesn't seek to form military and political alliance, and firmly opposes the Cold War mindset and power politics. These emphases make it an important force for maintaining regional stability.
The SCO advocates the new security outlook of "commonness, comprehensiveness, cooperation and sustainability", and enriches the new model of international relations centered on "partnership rather than alliance" initiated by China and Russia, and offers a new regional cooperation model featuring common advocacy, priority for security and mutually beneficial coordination.
In face of the complicated changes in the international and regional security situation, the SCO upholds respect for the United Nation's authority and the internationally acknowledged standard of international laws, opposes "violence for violence" and the zero-sum game, supports its member states' efforts to safeguard their security interests, and objects to foreign forces' interfering in the internal affairs of small and weak countries. The SCO endorses the Central Asian nuclear-free-zone, and has taken an active part in advancing national reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Set up an effective security platform
The SCO member states have signed the Shanghai Convention against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, Counter-Terrorism Convention, Anti-Extremism Convention, agreement on countering drug smuggling, and annual plans for cooperation among the defense departments and militaries.
It has also activated a range of meeting mechanisms, such as defense ministers' meetings, secretary of security meetings, public security (internal affairs) ministers' meetings and border defense leaders' meetings.
The SCO was one of the first international organizations to recognize the harm of international terrorism and announced its counter-terrorism stance. In 2004, the SCO Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS) was formed in Tashkent, which established a complete database of terrorists and terrorist organizations, organized anti-terrorism drills, and shared intelligence among the member states.
The SCO also created military cultural brands such as the series of "Peaceful Mission" military exercises and the "Fanfare for Peace" military music festival, making positive contributions to maintaining regional security and stability.
In 2018, the SCO will continue to hold "Peaceful Mission" multilateral drills in order to effectively deter the terrorist forces and extremist organizations both inside and outside the region.
The SCO has continuously expanded the scope of security cooperation. In addition to dealing with all kinds of non-traditional security threats and advocating joint law enforcement, it also pays close attention to new issues such as information security, energy security, ecological security and financial security and carries out cooperation in those areas.
Strong guarantee for regional cooperation
Security is the foundation for development. After China put forth the "Belt and Road Initiative", the SCO became an important platform for relevant countries to realize strategic alignment. President Xi Jinping called to create a "peaceful Silk Road", which set higher requirements on the SCO's security cooperation.
In the process of aligning China's Belt and Road Initiative with Russia's Greater Eurasian Partnership and Kazakhstan's Bright Road program, the SCO member states deepened security cooperation, practiced the new security outlook, and moved to build a security governance model with Asian characteristics.
Standing at a new historical starting point, the SCO members will all uphold the idea of a "community of shared destiny", treat each other as equals, help each other, and share weal and woe together in a bid to create a jointly built and shared security landscape.
The member states will stick to the "Shanghai Spirit", strengthen practical cooperation in high-level exchanges, joint drills, military culture, education and training, improve the security cooperation system, and enhance the organization's ability to fend off realistic threats, so as to make due contributions to lasting peace and prosperity in the region.
By Sun Zhuangzhi at the SCO Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.