Over the past five years, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has evolved into a regional grouping with increasing international clout. Its 2006 Shanghai summit is certainly a big event in the history of the SCO 's development.
Thursday's summit reviewed the organization's achievements in the past five years and outlined objectives for future cooperation. Chinese President Hu Jintao said the summit this year signifies that the regional organization has entered a new era of development.
Against the backdrop of complicated world situations and numerous regional challenges, the SCO was set up on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai on the basis of the "Shanghai Five."
The member countries were united under the banner of the " Shanghai Spirit" which embodies mutual trust and benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and a desire for common development.
Different from the Cold War mentality characterized by allied confrontation, the spirit embodies the shared aspiration of the international community for realizing democracy in international relations and enriches the theory and practice of contemporary international relations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his keynote speech at the summit that the "Shanghai Spirit" enables every SCO member to enjoy truly equal partnership.
In the years to come, "Shanghai Spirit" will be carried forward in the campaign for an SCO that features more pragmatic cooperation, more efficient action and more important role.
SCO member states cover an area of over 30 million square kilometers, or about three-fifths of Eurasia, with a population of 1.489 billion, nearly a quarter of the world's total.
China and other SCO members are working on 127 joint projects covering the areas of trade, investment, customs, finance, taxation, transportation, energy, agriculture, technology, telecommunications, environment, health and education.
The regional bloc has also set up seven specialist panels to study and coordinate action in such fields as customs, transportation, energy and telecommunications.
On the sidelines of this year's summit, some 2 billion U.S. dollars worth of business contracts and loan agreements were inked, with the deals involving a highway project connecting Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two high-voltage electricity lines in Tajikistan, a cement plant in Kyrgyzstan, and a hydropower station in Kazakhstan.
The goal of the SCO in economic cooperation is to realize free flow of goods, service, capital and technology by 2020 among its members.
In recent years, the SCO has done a lot of substantial work in the defense and security area. A number of anti-terror military exercises have been held and a largest-ever one is going to be staged in Russia in 2007.
Battling the "three evil forces" on the one hand, the SCO has to address other non-traditional security threats and challenges such as drug trafficking, money laundering and weapons smuggling in the region.
The region has been a conduit for Afghan drugs to flow into Europe and other parts of the world.
To cure the headache, the SCO established a liaison group in November 2005 between the SCO and Afghanistan and was about to help Afghanistan set up an "anti-drug zone."
At the Shanghai summit, the SCO further strengthened its hand in fighting terrorism.
Among the 10 documents signed on the summit, at least four are directly related to such efforts -- a statement on international information security, a resolution on fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism from 2007 to 2009, an agreement on joint anti-terrorism actions among member countries, and an agreement on cutting off the infiltration channels of terrorists, separatists and extremists.
In a joint communique released on Thursday, the six SCO presidents noted "it remains the top priority of the Organization to combat the threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism as well as illegal drug trafficking, which have not diminished but aggravated in scale and degree."