Constructive role in 16+1, SCO show China as responsible power

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (5th L front) attends the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries in Budapest, Hungary

BEIJING, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) — China’s growing presence in the international arena to foster a community of shared future for mankind was further evidenced recently by two fruitful meetings of leaders of China, Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has just concluded a week-long visit to Budapest in Hungary and Sochi in Russia, where he reached important consensus and discussed concrete projects during meetings with his counterparts at the annual China-CEEC and SCO gatherings.

Both of these cooperation mechanisms bear a strong Chinese imprint and have witnessed greater contributions over the years by China to promote win-win cooperation, a further testimony to China’s readiness to foster a community of common destiny in the world.

The 16+1 cooperation mechanism took root in the China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum in Budapest in 2011, a precursor to the first China-CEEC Leaders’ Meeting in Warsaw in 2012, which marked the founding of the mechanism. Over the past five years, the 16+1 cooperation has become an influential trans-regional mechanism with substantial projects and cooperation results in such fields as trade, investment, infrastructure, industrial partnerships and tourism.

At this year’s meeting, the Chinese premier announced the establishment of the China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of the China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund, a further boost to investment and finance cooperation between the two sides.

As an “incubator for pragmatic trans-regional cooperation,” the 16+1 cooperation helps promote balanced development in Europe by enhancing economic performance in its central and eastern region. According to Liu Zuokui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China’s participation filled the gap while the global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis limited the European Union’s (EU) ability to support the development of CEE countries.

Meanwhile, the SCO has just had its first major gathering of heads of government after a membership expansion in June to include India and Pakistan. The SCO now has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan as its full members.

Concluded on Friday, the meeting approved a joint communique that stresses efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination to address economic as well as security challenges, and push the construction of a community of shared future in the region.

All SCO members are major countries in China’s neighborhood and along the Belt and Road routes. China will continue to develop its friendship and partnership with its neighbors, and work with fellow SCO members to build a community of shared future in the region, said the Chinese premier.

The eight-member bloc, which covers nearly half of the world’s population and three-fifths of the Eurasian continent, is the world’s largest regional cooperation organization in terms of area and population with tremendous potential for development.

It was founded in the Chinese city of Shanghai in 2001 by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China, and has its secretariat in Beijing.

The “Shanghai Spirit,” the bedrock of the organization, features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development. It stands in sharp contrast with the Cold War-era confrontational mentality that is still found in many Western mechanisms.

As the Chinese economy grows bigger, higher expectations are placed on China to shoulder more international responsibilities to contribute to world peace and development.

China’s answer to such calls is firm and confident. China is unswervingly pursuing reform and opening-up domestically while presenting to the world the win-win cooperation framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, which features many flagship projects on infrastructure, finance and people-to-people exchanges.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping put it, China welcomes all countries aboard the express train of its development. China is also ready to share with other countries its development experience, and play its part as a major country and take an active role in improving the global governance system.

At the remarkable 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that wrapped up in late October, building “a community of shared future for mankind” was written into the CPC constitution, a symbol of its priority for China’s leadership.

Quite unlike what might have been feared, there are no strings attached to cooperation with China. Neither does China, the world’s largest developing country, seek hegemony in global affairs.

“No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion,” Xi told the 19th CPC National Congress.

From Southeast Asia to Africa, China’s rapidly growing engagement overseas is committed to win-win cooperation based on equality and fairness. The peace-loving nation wants to create an international environment that is conducive to the development of itself and other nations, and set an example of a new type of international relations that highlights mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.

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