As one of China`s most important home-based diplomatic activities in 2018, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Qingdao Summit will be held in June. The SCO is a comprehensive regional organization with the largest population, the largest geographic area, and huge potential in the world. With new regional and global situations, the challenges faced by SCO should not be underestimated. Before the summit, the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China (RDCY) and the Institute for Central Asia Studies of Lanzhou University joined hands to hold the symposium on the future development of the SCO and released the “Sailing Steady to Success: Shanghai Cooperation Organization in its 17 years” (Chinese-English) think tank research report.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the first international organization founded to address cross-border challenges, is the first one of its kind named after a Chinese city; the first new-type regional cooperation organization founded in the 21st century; the first international organization ever defining the three evil forces of terrorism, extremism and separatism and committed to combating the evil forces; and the first one pursuing an internal policy based on "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development".
With 17 years of development, SCO has made spectacular accomplishments by growing from a regional cooperation mechanism focusing on security cooperation into a cross-regional international organization covering the widest land area with the largest population in the world and engaged in multiple fields of cooperation.
Since its establishment, SCO has produced a series of political, economic and security accomplishments, the majority of which can be summed up under the following aspects: it weighed greater significance in China’s neighborhood diplomacy; it made outstanding contribution to the security and stability of Northwest China and Central Asia; it was set as important model for cooperation among countries with different political regimes; it made effective adjustments to relations between major countries under the framework of the organization; it made improvement in influence in international community through promoting international cooperation; and it provided a mechanism guarantee for the construction of the “Belt and Road” Initiative.
The development of SCO also faces challenges: the effectiveness of economic and trade cooperation within its framework needs improving; security cooperation needs expanding and improving; bilateral cooperation and multilateral cooperation within the organization are yet to be coordinated; new problems due to expansion; and problems in coordination between SCO and the "Belt and Road” Initiative.
To ensure the smooth development of SCO, it is necessary to further clarify the functional positioning and regional orientation of SCO, to further strengthen the role of SCO in China`s diplomacy, to increase efforts to implement the signed agreement, to perfect the working mechanisms of SCO’s decision-making, mediation and restraint, to start and continue to implement the major projects that meet the common interests of member states, and to improve the member states` institutional recognition of SCO.
SCO now stands at a new historical starting point and should adhere to the "One Spirit" and attach importance to "Two Carriages". We will promote the "Three Connections" and carry out work in the "Four Areas". Only in this way can SCO be able to play its role in a world where uncertainty is increasingly evident, effectively guaranteeing the organization`s openness and the peace and stability of the member states.