SCO 2022: A true reflection of Shanghai Spirit
Editor’s Note: The author is Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, Executive Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad and Regional Expert on China, CPEC & BRI. The article only represents the views of the author, and not necessarily of Gwadar Pro.
The 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) Council of Heads of State (CHS) was held from September 15-16 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Subsequently, the Samarkand declaration of the Council of Heads of State of SCO 2022 was signed and released which vividly reflected the core principles of the “Shanghai Spirit”.
Before visiting SCO 2022 the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif tweeted that Pakistan reiterated its commitments to the Shanghai Spirit of SCO. He upheld that mutual respect and trust should be the backbone of shared development and prosperity. He admired the transformational role of SCO in today's world.
In his speech in SCO 2022 Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif followed the golden principles of Shanghai Spirit comprising of openness, inclusiveness, mutual trust, political cooperation and last but not least economic cooperation among the SCO member countries. He tried to persuade all the SCO member countries to develop common strategies to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of looming threats of climate change which produced havocs in Pakistan.
In this regard, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif highlighted the devastation of floods in Pakistan and called for building a wall against the emerging non-state threat of climate change which has been included in the Joint SCO Communiqué.
He urged the SCO states to jointly work to eliminate the peril of extremism, separatism and terrorism. He concluded his speech by reaffirming Pakistan's strong and firm commitment in advancing the objectives of SCO.
Pakistan supports the Shanghai Spirit because it stands for mutual trust, mutual befitting propositions, equality, meaningful consultation, multiculturalism and pursuit of common development. It would open new window of opportunities for greater socio-economic prosperity, greater inflows of FDIs and protection of sovereignty for Pakistan. It also promotes political trust, openness and inclusiveness, and equity and justice fully embodies the Shanghai Spirit and PM Shehbaz fully endorsed it.
SCO is still expanding. During SCO 2022 Iran signed a memorandum of obligations for its full SCO membership. Moreover, the procedure for Belarus' accession was started. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar signed MOUs to get the status of SCO dialogue partners. Whereas, admission of Bahrain, the Maldives, the UAE, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners were started. So Shanghai Spirit is making inroads everywhere which is a healthy sign for its future strategic expansion.
SCO countries have improved the trade and investment environment and created favorable conditions for the free flow of goods, capital, services and technologies. According to Chinese Custom data (2020-2021), the global trade value of SCO member states increased from just $667 billion to $6.06 trillion in 2020. Its share of global trade enhanced from 5.4 percent in 2001 to 17.5 percent in 2020 which has great significance.
Furthermore, SCO member states hold one-tenth of the world's oil reserves, a quarter of natural gas reserves and 40 percent of coal reserves. In 2020, SCO countries accounted for 39 percent of the world's cereals production, and 31 percent of meat production. It has a considerable share of global food exports, taking up nearly half of world rice exports and 22 percent of wheat exports.
SCO promotes wide cooperation and security based on common interests and international law. It is a vivid example of the diversity of the international community.
It is a model of successful regional cooperation and connectivity. It has successfully promoted spirits of unity, harmony and peace among the member countries having different cultures and civilizations and different foreign policy guidelines and models of national economic development. It has now become a zone of responsibility.
Since its beginning, SCO has mobilized all the member countries in right direction to achieve desired goals of economic stability and sustainability, political constructive dialogue and social development. It seems that Shanghai Spirit is on the background of BRI and CPEC because both stand for immense socio-economic integration, greater regional connectivity, and infrastructural development.
Shanghai Spirit should be the mantra of every member country of SCO, because it upholds the ideal combination of global socio-economic prosperity, regional connectivity and economic sustainability.