BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – President Xi Jinping will attend the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Uzbek city of Samarkand while paying a state visit to Uzbekistan from Thursday to Friday (Sept 15-16).

The Chinese leader expressed his hopes that the organisation can play a greater role in the region and beyond in a signed article carried by leading Uzbek media outlets on Tuesday.

“I am confident that with the joint efforts of all sides, the Samarkand Summit will produce fruitful outcomes and make a great contribution to building an even closer SCO community with a shared future and to the peace, stability, development and prosperity of our region,” he wrote.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the SCO, and the Samarkand Summit is being held at a critical time when the region faces many challenges and uncertainties. The protracted Covid-19 pandemic, as well as heavily disrupted global industry and supply chains, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and climate change have created a perfect storm for the global economy, which is heading toward a recession. Which means that the SCO must play a more active role not only in upholding regional security and stability, but also in promoting development and prosperity.

During the summit, Iran is scheduled to sign a memorandum of obligations to pave the way for its accession to full SCO membership, while the SCO has also received a membership application from Belarus. Moreover, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt are scheduled to formally become SCO dialogue partners, and negotiations will be held on granting Cambodia, the Maldives and other countries the status of dialogue partner. The fast expanding influence of the SCO attests to the fact that the organisation is viewed by the countries of the Silk Road Economic Belt as a vital safeguard for international norms and multilateralism.

Bringing together countries from different regions, at different stages of development, and from different civilisations and traditions, the SCO, which now accounts for about 80 per cent of Eurasia’s territory and 24 per cent of the global GDP, is forging a strong collective. It is partnership characterised by non-alignment, dialogue and non-confrontation, and a practical vehicle for exploring the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, for example, is playing a unique role in helping the country to restore peace and stability through development and political reconciliation.

As a regional organisation encompassing the largest area and the largest population in the world today, and as a promoter of mutual learning, mutual trust, and mutual benefit, the SCO is also assuming the role of being a practical driver of development.

With the world now facing unprecedented energy and food crises partly due to disrupted global supply chains, the SCO and its partners will work at the summit to make new strategic arrangements to stabilise the SCO development environment for the benefit of all countries.

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