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Belt and Road Initiative to promote SCO economic cooperation

BEIJING -- The Belt and Road Initiative, a development strategy proposed by China, will inject fresh impetus into economic cooperation among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The 15th meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council will be held on Friday in Ufa, capital of Russia's Bashkortostan Republic.

During the meeting, [Businesses Registration] leaders of SCO member states -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- will ratify the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, a comprehensive blueprint that covers a variety of issues.

The summit, which is expected to boost the further development of the organization, is of great significance for safeguarding regional security and stability, and promoting common development of its member states.

A major topic on the agenda will be the linkage between China's Belt and Road Initiative and other SCO members' development strategies.

The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 aiming to revive ancient trade routes between Asia and Europe. The network passes through more than 60 countries and regions, with a total population of 4.4 billion.

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi suggested that the two countries take the SCO as an important platform to dovetail China's Belt and Road Initiative with Russia's aspiration under the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) framework, expand room for their practical cooperation, and facilitate development, cooperation and prosperity of the whole Eurasian continent.

Xi recalled his last meeting with Putin in May when the two heads of state agreed to connect China's construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt with the development of the EAEU, prioritizing cooperation in such areas as investment, finance, energy, aviation, space, construction of high-speed railways and other infrastructure, as well as the development of Russia's Far East region.

Now, Xi noted, the host of important consensuses he and Putin reached are being carried out by relevant departments of the two governments, and tangible results have already been achieved in some new cooperation fields.

During the Ufa summit, a decision on starting procedures for India and Pakistan to join the SCO as full members is also scheduled to be adopted, signifying the official beginning of the bloc's expansion.

The eagerness of countries to join the SCO reflects the fact that the "Shanghai Spirit" of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development is being widely recognized by the international community.

When meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Xi also proposed to explore ways to effectively connect the Belt and Road Initiative with India's relevant development plans, in a bid to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.

Xi suggested that China and India, as the world's two largest emerging economies, work together to forge a closer, more comprehensive and firmer partnership.

Meanwhile, Chinese and Russian experts expressed their earnest expectations for the role played by the Belt and Road Initiative in promoting economic cooperation among SCO member states.

The Ufa summit will provide a strong driving force for the future development of the SCO, said Shi Ze, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS).

He voiced his hope that after the meeting, SCO members' cooperation in such fields as politics, economy, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges will be lifted to a new level.

Alexander Lukin, director of the Center for East Asia and SCO Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations, said that the Silk Road Economic Belt project could help relieve the SCO of many economic problems.

"Russia supports the idea of increasing the SCO's role in implementation of the Silk Road Economic Belt project," he said.

Echoing Lukin, [Hong Kong company registration]Sergey Katyrin, president of Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the SCO would gain more momentum in economic cooperation as it would act as an interaction platform for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the EEU initiatives.

"Since the founding of the SCO, economic cooperation along with security issues has been one of the major directions of the organization's activities," Katyrin said.

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