By Xinhua Writers Hai Yang, Liu Yang
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has moved into a new era of pragmatic cooperation that will benefit its member states and the international community.
That's the impression of the Russian media as the SCO is to hold its ninth annual summit June 15 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The summit will be held precisely eight years after the establishment of the regional bloc that includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Under the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit, which enshrines mutual trust and benefits, equality, negotiation and respect for cultural diversity, the SCO has gradually become an efficient mechanism for maintaining its member states' common benefits and promoting their cooperation.
It has also grown into a major force in facilitating the realization of lasting peace and common development. The SCO also has made crucial contributions to the establishment of a just and rational international order.
As SCO members have strengthened mutual trust and coordinated their stances on international issues, political collaboration within the SCO is expected to become a potent mechanism in setting up a new global political order.
In terms of security, a major priority within the SCO, all member states have accomplished great achievements in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and other problems.
In particular, several meetings this year have outlined a more tangible "roadmap" for further cooperation in this sphere.
Member states at the first SCO conference on Afghanistan held March 27 in Moscow reached consensus on comprehensive cooperation against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.
The SCO's defense ministers also endorsed a cooperation plan for 2010-2011 after an April 29 meeting in Moscow.
A series of cooperation documents concerning transborder organized crime, money laundering and oil and gas pipeline security were signed after the first meeting of the SCO interior and public security ministers in Yekaterinburg on May 18.
Economic and trade cooperation has also been undergoing smooth development among SCO members. A series of trade and investment projects are being implemented, including transportation projects involving China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
A new outline for multilateral economic and trade cooperation among member states signed by SCO prime ministers at the 2008 October summit has marked key points for future initiatives.
Moreover, SCO members have also started to discuss a joint mechanism against the ongoing global financial crisis. Relevant issues are expected to top the agenda at the Yekaterinburg summit.
China has been playing an active role in SCO trade and economic cooperation. Trade volumes between China and the other member states have increased at an average annual growth rate of 30 percent _from 12.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to 67.5 billion dollars last year.
By the end of 2007, China has provided the other SCO members with investments worth 13 billion dollars.
The member states also emphasize the enhancement of cooperation in culture, education, healthcare, disaster management and relief.
The organization has become "a platform for setting up collective measures," said SCO Secretary General Bolat Nurgaliyev.
In compliance with an increasing need for foreign exchanges and cooperation, the SCO in recent years has accepted Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India as observers.
It also has established contact group relations with Afghanistan and obtained observer status in the United Nations General Assembly. The SCO has also begun to study the procedural mechanism of accepting new member states.
Analysts believe the reasons the regional bloc thrive and prosper is that its tenets and formation are congruous with the multipolar and globalizing trend, the political and economic development of the Eurasia region and the fundamental interests of their peoples.