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      Xi stresses need to strengthen solidarity

      By CAO DESHENG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-09-18 06:55
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      President Xi Jinping delivers a speech via video link in Beijing on Friday at the 21st meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. HUANG JINGWEN/XINHUA

      SCO meeting hears his call to promote inclusive development benefiting all

      President Xi Jinping has called for practicing true multilateralism for win-win cooperation and opposing any attempt to use so-called "rules" to undermine the international order and create confrontation and division.

      Xi made the remark while addressing the 21st meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing via video link on Friday. The meeting was hosted by Tajikistan, which holds the rotating SCO presidency this year. The SCO members also include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India.

      He underlined the importance of upholding international equity and justice, and said that in dealing with international issues, hegemonic, domineering and bullying acts from a "position of strength" should be firmly rejected. Instead, he added, the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, as well as the principle of extensive consultations and joint contributions for shared benefits, should be observed.

      Xi stressed the need to boost mutually beneficial cooperation, remove trade, investment and technology barriers, and promote inclusive development that delivers benefits to all.

      The president called on the SCO countries to work together to promote democracy in international relations while developing themselves, build an even closer SCO community with a shared future and contribute even more to lasting global peace and common prosperity.

      "We should maintain firm confidence in our systems, reject condescending lecturing, and firmly support countries in exploring development paths and governance models that are compatible with their national conditions," Xi said.

      "We must never allow any external interference in the domestic affairs of countries in our region under whatever pretext," he added. "We should keep the future of our countries' development and progress firmly in our own hands."

      Xi called for deepening international cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and firmly opposing any act of politicizing origin tracing.

      In order to strengthen regional security, he said that the SCO should take tough actions against terrorism, separatism and extremism, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

      Speaking on the Afghanistan situation, he said the SCO countries need to step up coordination, fully leverage platforms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan.

      While highlighting openness and integration in promoting the SCO countries' development, Xi called for strengthening complementarities between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of SCO countries, and regional cooperation initiatives such as the Eurasian Economic Union.

      "To facilitate post-COVID economic recovery in SCO countries, China will continue to share its market opportunities, strive to reach $2.3 trillion in its cumulative trade with other SCO countries in the next five years, and improve its trade structure and balance," he said.

      Xi proposed a series of measures to strengthen cooperation between China and other SCO countries, including its planned launch of the second phase of the special lending facility to promote Belt and Road cooperation.

      The meeting launched procedures to admit Iran as a member state of the SCO and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new dialogue partners. It also adopted a declaration on the 20th anniversary of the SCO.

      The leaders participating in the meeting pledged to uphold the Shanghai Spirit, which features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and the pursuit of common development, to build partnerships, safeguard the countries' common interests and jointly meet new challenges.

      While highlighting solidarity in fighting the pandemic and cooperation in various fields for sustainable development in the region, they vowed to support multilateralism, and oppose unilateralism, hegemonism and interference in other countries' domestic affairs in the name of democracy and human rights.

      They also expressed opposition to politicizing sports, and support for China in hosting the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

      During the meeting, leaders of the SCO countries expressed concerns over the Afghanistan situation, as well as their support for the country's peace and reconstruction, saying that the SCO will play a positive role in the process.

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