FROM THE GREAT WALL TO THE KREMLIN WALLS

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An interview with Chinese President Hu Jintao

The sixth meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization heads of state council will be held in Shanghai on June 15. In the lead-up to that meeting, Chinese President Hu Jintao gave an interview to a group of journalists from SCO member states.


The sixth meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state council will be held in Shanghai on June 15. In the lead-up to that meeting, Chinese President Hu Jintao gave an interview to a group of journalists from SCO member states.

Question: It’s ten years since the Shanghai Five mechanism was launched. Ten years ago, China and Russia established strategic partnership and cooperation. At the Shanghai summit, you will hold a number of bilateral meetings with President Putin and other leaders of SCO member states. What do you think of the condition and prospects of Chinese-Russian relations?

Hu Jintao: As you have said, correctly, this year we mark the tenth anniversary of strategic partnership and cooperation between China and Russia. Next year we will mark the 15th anniversary of China’s diplomatic relations with other member states of the SCO: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In the last few years, relations with these countries have passed the test of a changing situation in international relations. They are growing, and getting closer.

Russia is one of China’s most important strategic partners. Thanks to mutual efforts, relations between us have risen to an unprecedented high. Their strategic component is growing noticeably. As you know, for seven years in succession we have managed to maintain rapid growth in trade turnover and achieve significant progress in energy and investment cooperation. Our consultations and interactions in mutual and regional affairs are very effective. President Putin made a successful visit to China recently. The Year of China in Russia and Year of Russia in China open unique opportunities for comprehensive extension of bilateral relations. I wish to note that we are prepared to work further, together with our Russian colleagues, on strengthening mutual political confidence and deepening strategic cooperation, as well as contributing to ongoing development of mutual relations.

Question: What do you think about the path taken by the SCO in its five years of existence? Do you think that the SCO has become established as a universally recognized international organization? It is known that each SCO member state has its own peculiarities. How does the SCO manage to achieve harmonious coexistence and common development in such conditions?

Hu Jintao: The end of the 1990s and the start of this decade saw some far-reaching changes in the international situation. The geopolitical situation on the Eurasian continent underwent substanial changes as well. Countries of the region face both opportunities and challenges in the current situation, and a justified decision has been made by six neighboring countries – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – to strengthen neighborly relations by common efforts, as well as to strengthen mutual confidence and mutually beneficial cooperation and ensure stability in the region and contribute to mutual development. In creating the SCO, we were acting based on such considerations.

Due to joint efforts, in the past five years SCO member states have made great progress in their development. First of all, they have adopted dozens of documents related to cooperation. As a result, they laid and improved the legal foundation of the SCO and created a well-tested cooperation mechanism. Secondly, SCO member states are cooperating productively in the area of security, which is very important for ensuring stability in the region in general. Thirdly, on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual gain, the SCO countries are intensively developing trade and economic cooperation. Some large facilities have been approved and put into operation. This has definitely encouraged, and continues to encourage, economic development in SCO member states. Fourthly, exchanges in the humanitarian field are constantly being deepened. Finally, SCO cooperation in the international area is developing actively; foreign relations are being expanded, and the SCO is becoming more authoritative.

Although there are relatively large differences between SCO member states in ideologies, cultural traditions and levels of economic development, in only five years of existence the SCO has achieved noticeable success, gaining strength rapidly. In my opinion, the main reason for this is the fact that member states are permanently guided by the Shanghai spirit, its main aspects being mutual confidence, mutual benefit, equal consultations, respect of diversity of cultures and striving for mutual development. This is the most reliable guarantee of harmonious coexistence and common development.

Question: An anniversary meeting of the SCO heads of state council will be held in Shanghai soon. Which expectations does Beijing have in connection with this event? What will it focus on, and what importance does it have for further development of the SCO?

Hu Jintao: The international situation is extremely difficult now, and the situation on the Eurasian continent faces various challenges. Simultaneously, all countries of the region are working actively on ensuring peace and stability and encouraging social and economic development.

The Shanghai summit that is to be held against such a background must become an important meeting beneath the banner of solidarity and business cooperation. Summit participants will discuss important results of activities of the SCO in the past five years, analyze the current international and regional situation, study directions for further development of the SCO, and work out certain plans and measures of cooperation. I am convinced that all this will be useful for transforming our region into a region of peace, harmony and prosperity.

Question: What do you think about foreign relations of the SCO, and how is the SCO going to demonstrate its openness and constructive intentions in both international and regional affairs in the future?

Hu Jintao: The SCO holds to the principle of openness and non-alignment. In foreign contacts it implements a new concept of security and in internal contacts it is guided by the “Shanghai spirit.” From the very start it was not a closed and excluding organization aimed against a third country. In the last five years, the SCO accepted Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran as observers and established official elations with international and regional organizations like ON, ASEAN, CIS and Eurasian Economic Community. An increasingly growing number of countries express a wish to establish contacts with our organization.

Experience shows that the SCO represents an important force for provision of peace and stability in the region and all over the world and a force for promotion of democratization of international relations and assistance to formation of harmonious world. Our organization will keep acting from constructive positions, will embody common opinion of all its participants, will work on fulfillment of tasks of provision of peace and stability in the region together with other countries and will encourage development and prosperity of all countries of the region.

Question: How do you see the SCO’s development prospects? What kind of role do you think China has played in the SCO in the past five years, and what will China do to promote its development?

Hu Jintao: The SCO’s development prospects are fairly broad. First, all SCO member states are geographically close, connected with a similar history, common culture and long-standing traditions of friendly contacts. All this is unique in the aspect of cooperation. Second, all our countries face a common and pressing task of social and economic development and raising living standards. We all really need preserving of domestic stability and security, are very interested in achievement of our own development and in joint counteraction to challenges through cooperation in the framework of the SCO. Thirdly, in the last five years we have managed to create a relatively good organizational structure and legal system. We have also accumulated important experience. All these are good preconditions for further development of the SCO.

The government of China considers the creation and establishment of the SCO to be very important. First of all, this is conditioned by our country’s neighborly and pro-partnership policy towards neighboring countries and a wish to pursue our own development peacefully. For many years, China and the other member states have been contributing to strengthening neighborly relations and mutual confidence, increasing contribution to trade and economic cooperation, carrying out humanitarian exchanges and dialog. China has made its due contribution to creating and establishing the SCO. Pooling our efforts, our countries will be able to transform the SCO into an organization that is more united, more businesslike and more productive. For this purpose, China is prepared to make its contribution in the future.

Good bilateral relations among SCO member states are very important for ensuring regional peace and stability and assisting mutual development. To be fair, it is necessary to remark that all SCO member states manifest serious interest in strengthening bilateral relations. That is why I expect meetings with my colleagues with a warm feeling during the Shanghai summit, as well as detailed exchange of opinions about the issues of bilateral relations and the most important issues of international and regional policy posing a mutual interest. We are ready to take effort together with all parties to bring bilateral relations to a new stage and to lead the SCO to new levels.

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