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Commentary: SCO Beijing Summit to set tune for new decade

By Wu Liming (Xinhua)

16:25, June 05, 2012

BEIJING, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to be held here Wednesday and Thursday, is expected to set the tune for the development of the six-member bloc over the next decade.

Clearly, the founding of the SCO in June 2001 was a major international event that has reshaped the global strategic landscape and reshifted the balance of power.

This year marks the beginning of the second decade for the development of the SCO, so the Beijing summit will take on the historic task of mapping out a new blueprint for the increasingly important global players.

The Beijing summit will further identify the direction of the SCO's development and major tasks for the next decade and will adopt the Strategic Plan for the Medium-Term Development of the SCO.

"It is no exaggeration to say the adoption of this document will have far-reaching influence on the SCO's development," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said.

Security and economic cooperation are the two key fields within the SCO.

Over the past decade, the SCO has scored remarkable achievements in security cooperation, such as jointly fighting terrorists, separatists, drug and arms traffickers, and staging joint anti-terrorism military exercises. The efforts have helped ensure peace and stability in the region.

It is reported that the Beijing summit will adopt the amendments to the SCO Regulations on Political and Diplomatic Measures and Mechanism of Response to Events Jeopardizing Regional Peace, Security and Stability. The move will considerably boost the SCO's ability to prevent and tackle emergencies.

As regards the economy, the SCO has established an effective platform for deepening cooperation, which has led to a rapid increase in trade volume among the SCO members. A case in point: China's annual trade with the rest of the SCO members grew from 12.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to around 90 billion dollars in 2011.

Comparatively speaking, economic cooperation has lagged behind security cooperation within the SCO. It is expected that China, the host of the Beijing summit, will present further proposals to boost economic cooperation within the SCO.

Also, the summit will try to reach consensus on establishing multilateral financing guarantee mechanisms and speeding up transportation facilitation.

Expansion will be another issue at the Beijing summit. As more and more countries are expressing interest in joining the intergovernmental bloc, the summit is set to deliberate observer status and dialogue partnership for certain countries.

Numerous scholars suggest that the SCO should be cautious about granting membership, as any hasty decision in that regard could undermine the bloc's capability given the sharp economic and historical differences between the individual countries.

All in all, it is widely believed that the Beijing summit will be a milestone in the SCO' history, and is sure to give new impetus to the development of the six-member bloc.

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