Hu's visit set to boost regional cooperation

By Yu Sui (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-14 06:55

At the invitation of Kyrgyz, Russian and Kazakh presidents, President Hu Jintao will pay a state visit to Kyrgyzstan from today until Saturday, where he will attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organizations (SCO) in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, and watch the joint anti-terrorism military exercise in Russia staged by SCO members. He will end his tour with a state visit to Kazakhstan.

Hu's tour is aimed at promoting the SCO's role in safeguarding international and regional peace and stability and bringing about a harmonious region.

The SCO has been making steady progress since it was established in 2001. Its member states, through negotiations at the Bishkek summit, are expected to push forward the "Shanghai Spirit" which manifests mutual benefit, negotiations based on equality, respecting each other's cultures and seeking common development.

The member states will also strive to fulfill the new tasks faced by the SCO. First, this involves deepening cooperation in the area of common security, which requires working out a terrorism-prevention convention, reinforcing member states' anti-terror capabilities and introducing anti-drug trafficking mechanisms as soon as possible.

Second, cooperation in economics ought to be strengthened, involving consolidating the legal base for trade and investment, drawing up plans for cooperation in the fields of energy, transportation and communications and carrying out a number of multilateral economic projects that benefit all parties.

Third, cooperation in cultural and educational fields should be promoted. As a result, a number of pacts covering cultural exchanges, educational cooperation and disaster-relief undertakings will be reached and implemented. For example, plans for mutual recognition of academic credentials and university degrees throughout SCO member countries will be worked out.

Fourth, exchanges between SCO members on the one hand and other countries on the other need to be boosted. This involves substantial cooperation in economics, transportation, energy and the fight against drug-trafficking between SCO members and observer countries.

In addition, the role of the SCO-Afghanistan liaison group should be brought into play. And liaison and dialogue with relevant regions and international organizations should be strengthened.

The Bishkek summit is expected to be a large international gathering and is of far-reaching significance.

In addition to the heads of state of the SCO members, dignitaries from several observer countries - Mongolia, Iran and Afghanistan - are expected to attend the summit, as well as the Turkmen president and Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers. The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe is also expected to attend.

At the summit, the heads of state of the six SCO members will sign a friendly treaty on long-term good-neighborly cooperation among SCO member states, which perpetuates in legal form the aspirations of the peoples in those countries for eternal peace and friendship down the generations.

A number of other important documents are also expected to be signed, including the Bishkek Declaration and the plan for information security among the SCO members.

Besides the upcoming Bishkek summit, SCO member countries are currently engaged in the Peace Mission 2007 anti-terrorism military exercise, the fifth of its kind.

The previous four exercises demonstrated to the world the combat readiness of SCO member states' armed forces for coping with non-traditional security threats and meeting the new challenges. The exercises served as a deterrent to the terrorist, separatist and extremist elements and helped safeguard regional peace and stability.

The scale of the current anti-terrorism maneuver is unprecedented.

Two years ago, Chinese and Russian armed forces took part in Peace Mission 2005 on China's Yellow Sea, focusing on amphibious operations. The current exercises, however, involve all six members of the SCO and concentrate on fighting terrorism. The curtain went up on Thursday in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where the planning and command operations are carried out. The on-the-battleground phase of Peace Mission 2007 exercise will kick off on Friday in Cheliyabinsk, Russia.

The heads of state and defense ministers of the six SCO member countries will be present, watching the exercise unfold.

The current maneuver, as its predecessors, is not targeted at any other country or organization and does not involve the interests of the nations other than SCO members.

President Hu Jintao's visit to Kyrgyzstan coincides with the fifth anniversary of the signing of the China-Kyrgyzstan Friendly Treaty on Good-Neighborly Cooperation. The development of bilateral relations keeps a strong momentum, with the cooperation in trade, transportation, agriculture, education, culture and sports expanding continuously. Trade between the two countries in 2006, for example, hit $2.26 billion, up 128.6 percent on the previous year.

During Hu's visit, the two sides will sign a number of documents covering political, economic, agricultural and educational cooperation.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev said President Hu's Kyrgyzstan visit will inject new vitality into the bilateral relations and help make the cooperation more fruitful.

China-Kazakhstan relations have been developing steadily in recent years. The bilateral cooperation in economics, energy, transportation and culture is yielding rich results.

Last year, the volume of bilateral trade reached $8.36 billion, up 22.8 percent on the previous year. Large-scale cooperative programs such as Kazakhstan-China crude-oil pipeline and the Horgas international border cooperation center are progressing smoothly.

During Hu's visit, the two sides are expected to sign a package of cooperative documents involving politics and economics. The countries will also strengthen orchestration on regional and international issues.

In the interval between the SCO summit and the military exercise, Hu will have two meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The China-Russia strategic cooperation partnership entered its 10th year in 2007 and the two countries will open up new channels and introduce new measures to push forward the cooperation in economics, energy, investment, science and technology, environmental protection, culture and education. Where important regional and world issues are concerned, communication between the two countries is to be reinforced.

The author is a researcher with the Research Center of Contemporary World

(China Daily 08/14/2007 page10)

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