Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 21st, 2018

“Shanghai Spirit” Contributes to Afghan Peace

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“Shanghai Spirit” Contributes to Afghan Peace

Next month, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit will be held in Qingdao, China. Leaders of the SCO member states and observer states, including Afghanistan, will be warmly welcomed. This will be an important international conference China hosts this year. It is not only the “coming-of-age ceremony” of SCO, but also the first summit after India and Pakistan got their full membership. Thus, the summit has a great significance of inheriting the past and exploring the future.
The current security situation in Asia is generally stable, but most countries are facing the threats of terrorism, extremism, separatism, drug smuggling, and transnational organized crimes. The hustle and bustle of unilateralism, protectionism, and populism are lingering in our ears. The situation has raised us a question: Should we go back to isolationism, adopting the beggar-thy-neighbor policy, cliquing and confronting, or should we work together to meet these challenges?
Afghanistan’s reconciliation process and peaceful reconstruction are also at a new crossroad. The security and well-being of the Afghan people are closely connected with the policies of its neighbors and major powers, as well as the international community’s contribution to the Afghan issue. This also raises us another question: Can Afghanistan get rid of the curse of history, stop being a battlefield for big games, and become a harbor of cooperation?
The history and achievements of SCO provide a positive frame of reference for answering the above-mentioned questions. The upcoming Qingdao SCO Summit will make more contributions to Afghanistan’s peace and stability.
First, the soul and foundation of SCO is “Shanghai Spirit”,  featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respecting diverse civilizations and seeking common development. The Spirit abandons the foisted self-righteousness, orients from Asian countries’ traditional values and common interests, fabricates the characteristics and constructs the prestige of SCO. “Shanghai Spirit” is not only a bond for SCO members, but also has practical significance for the international community’s responding to the Afghan issue, and it is an positive attempt to foster a new type of international relations and to build a community with shared future for mankind.
Second, SCO has always committed itself to the principle of good-neighborliness and friendship, respected the sovereignty, independence, integrity and national dignity of its member states as well as observer states. It insists on solving hot-spot issues through multilateralism, opposes to interference other countries’ internal affairs, imposing political or economic pressure on a sovereign state with unilateral sanctions, or the willfully use or threat to use forces. On solving the hot-spot issues, China and SCO always follow the principles of “peaceful, justifiable and constructive”. Therefore, every country including Afghanistan feels equal and comfortable when participating in SCO events, and find their sovereignty and security are enhanced instead of being weakened. 
Third, SCO is highly concerned with Afghan affairs. It published Statement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as its Plan of Action, with the Afghan government, held a special meeting on Afghan affairs in 2009, resumed the SCO- Afghanistan Contact Group and has held its second meeting at deputy foreign minister’s level. SCO has always been supporting the efforts of the Afghan government and its people in achieving national reconciliation and fighting against terrorism, calling for enhanced cooperation of international community under the leadership and coordination of UN, and pushing forward the political settlement of Afghan issue. Although Afghanistan is an observer state of SCO, China always supports Afghanistan to have more participation in relevant activities under the framework of SCO, appreciates Afghanistan’s positive will of becoming a full member state. SCO has not only broadened the channels of Afghanistan’s contacts abroad, but also provided a suitable platform for enhancing cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighboring countries.
Fourth, the anti-terrorism efforts of SCO have strengthened Afghanistan’s confidence and ability in countering terrorism. Since its establishment, SCO has always maintained the security and stability of the region as its priority, and severely crack down on “Three Evils” such as “East Turkistan” separatists. On fighting terrorism, the SCO not only has mature documents and mechanisms, but also carried out a large number of concrete actions, including cooperation on anti-terrorism intelligence, law enforcement, and judiciary. Member states hold joint anti-terrorism exercises regularly, adopt coordinated actions to cut off funding and material supply channels for terrorism, implement effective border control and conduct joint investigations on transnational terrorist crimes. Last June, the Astana Declaration of SCO pointed out in particular that it is necessary to fight against the spread of terrorist ideology and propaganda, step up our efforts to counteract the radicalization of society leading to manifestations of radical forms of extremism, including terrorism, primarily among young people, as well as to prevent religious, ethnic, ideological and political extremism, ethnic and racial intolerance, and xenophobia.
Fifth, SCO attaches great importance to development issues, and provides a springboard for Afghanistan to participate in regional integration and promote connectivity. In recent years, SCO member states have coordinated their development strategies for the jointly building of Belt and Road Initiative, promoted capacity cooperation and achieved fruitful results infields of cross-border transportation, energy and chemical industries, agricultural and pastoral products trade, culture exchanges, environment protection and etc.. SCO is gradually establishing institutional arrangements for regional economic cooperation, promoting trade and investment facilitation, constructing railways and other transportation infrastructures.
SCO member states have signed the Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport. A transportation line of 9300 km will be opened and available to its member states by 2020, and regional countries are welcomed to join in the future. It’s well-worthy for Afghan businessman to study and explore ways to  connect and use this line through which Afghanistan can hold an advantageous position in the regional industrial chain, value chain, and logistical chain, to be the heart of the regional connectivity, and regain Afghanistan’s glories during the era of the ancient silk road.
The SCO Qingdao Summit, to be hosted by China, will be a historical grand gathering with comprehensive contents, extensive participation, multiple highlights which featuring the spirit of forging ahead. China’s chairmanship and coordination ability will be well observed, Afghanistan’s participation and contribution will also be of great importance. Let’s wait with expectation!

Liu Jinsong is the Ambassador of China to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

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