Premier Li Keqiang attends the 16th meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) in Sochi, Russia, Dec 1, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]
SOCHI — Premier Li Keqiang said on Dec 1 that China is ready to work with fellow members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to build a community of shared future in the region.
Premier Li expressed the will when addressing the 16th meeting of the Council of the SCO Heads of Government (Prime Ministers), which was held in Sochi from Nov 30 to Dec 1.
TO SYNERGIZE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
All SCO members are major countries in China’s neighborhood and along the Belt and Road routes. China will continue to build friendship and partnership with its neighbors, and work with fellow SCO members to build a community of shared future in the region, said Premier Li.
From theory and planning to practical implementations, cooperation in strategic alignments between China and other SCO members has come to a new stage, Premier Li said.
“By synergizing our development strategies, we will be able to better leverage our comparative advantages in resources, technology, talents and capital to generate a multiplying effect on development,” said Premier Li, noting that SCO members are all at a crucial stage of national development, and have each formulated development strategies suited to their respective national conditions.
Development is regarded as an effective way to settle regional conflicts and instability, Premier Li said, adding that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is a platform for practical cooperation instead of a geopolitical tool.
China’s efforts to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with programs of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) have produced early harvests. Negotiations for an economic and trade cooperation agreement have been principally concluded between China and the EEU, he said.
“China will, under the principle of shared benefits through consultation and collaboration, work with fellow SCO members to facilitate the implementation of the outcomes of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to make our region and our peoples early beneficiaries of the Belt and Road cooperation,” he said.
The SCO has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan as its full members. It has four observer states, namely Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, and six dialogue partners, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
The SCO meeting is the first of its kind after the organization enlargement in June to include India and Pakistan.
TO PROMOTE REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY
Moreover, Premier Li advocated to develop a well-connected infrastructure network, noting that the trial operation of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan international road transportation arrangement has been successfully conducted recently, marking a major breakthrough in regional connectivity.
“China is ready to work with all sides to promote better alignment of transport plans and systems of technology and standard and closer coordination in international customs clearance, reloading and multimodal transport to improve the efficiency of regional logistics and transport,” said Premier Li while addressing the meeting.
Connectivity in infrastructure cannot be achieved without financial connectivity. China supports the provision of greater financing to connectivity projects by financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, SCO Interbank Consortium and China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund.
“We welcome the issuing of Panda bonds in China and RMB financing by companies and financial institutions of SCO states. China suggests continued efforts be made to work out a viable plan for setting up an SCO development bank with a view to opening new funding channels,” he said.
The Premier also urged relevant parties to enhance trade liberalization and facilitation, saying people should “cut down on tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, and jointly build an integrated regional market to unleash the trade potential in our region.”
Bilateral trade relations have grown closer between China and other SCO member countries. China has become the largest trading partner of Russia and Kyrgyzstan.
Mutual investment has been growing steadily, with China’s nonfinancial direct investment in other SCO member countries, as of April 2017, amounting to $74.2 billion and investment in the reverse direction totaling $1.09 billion.
TO ALLOW SCO TO PLAY GREATER ROLE
“The SCO needs to enhance its communication, dialogue, mutual support and coordination with the UN and other international and regional organizations to raise its profile and influence,” said Premier Li.
Since its inception 16 years ago, the SCO has grown into the largest comprehensive regional organization in the world. With India and Pakistan joining in, the eight SCO member states now account for over three fifths of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half of the world’s population and over 20 percent of global GDP, holding significantly expanded market potential.
Premier Li said that as the rotating chair, China will work closely with fellow SCO members and strive for fruitful outcomes of cooperation in political, security, economic and cultural areas and in SCO’s external relations and institutional building to ensure the success of the SCO summit in 2018 and build a stronger SCO from a new starting point.
Premier Li arrived in Russia on Nov 29 after wrapping up a visit to Hungary, where he also attended the Sixth Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries.
During his stay in Russia, he attended the SCO meeting and met with several leaders from SCO member and observer states. Premier Li has returned to Beijing on the morning of Dec 2.