Xi warns against attempts to foment new 'Cold War'; calls on SCO states to safeguard regional peace

In a veiled criticism of the US, Xi called for opposing hegemonism and power politics and making the system of global governance fairer and more equitable.
Chinese President Xi Jinping. (File Photo | AP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping. (File Photo | AP)

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday warned against the external attempts to foment a new "Cold War" in the region and called on the SCO member countries to safeguard regional peace and ensure common security by cracking down on terrorism through joint operations.

Addressing the 23rd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State (CHS) presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a virtual format, President Xi also urged the member states to "truly respect" each other's core interests and major concerns.

In a veiled criticism of the US, Xi called for opposing hegemonism and power politics and making the system of global governance fairer and more equitable.

"We should keep in mind the overall and long-term interests of our region, and make our foreign policies independently. We must be highly vigilant against external attempts to foment a new 'Cold War' or camp-based confrontation in our region," Xi told the meeting attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi among others.

"We must resolutely reject any interference in our internal affairs and the instigation of 'colour revolutions' by any country under whatever pretext. The future of our development must be held firmly in our own hands," he said, amid strained ties with the US.

Xi underscored efforts to uphold multilateralism and improve global governance.

"Sustaining peace and security in this region is our common responsibility," he said.

China stands ready to work with all sides to implement the Global Security Initiative (GSI) proposed by him to promote the settlement of international disputes through dialogue and consultation, he said.

The member states should "encourage political settlement of international and regional hotspots, so as to forge a solid security shield in our region," he said.

"We need to upgrade SCO security cooperation and continue to conduct joint operations. We should crack down hard on the forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism such as the 'East Turkistan' elements, drug trafficking, and cyber and transnational organised crimes," he said.

China accuses East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uygur militant group from the volatile Xinjiang region, is an extremist group aligned with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Xi also said, "We should move faster to strengthen the mechanisms for our law enforcement and security cooperation, and expand cooperation in the non-traditional security fields, including digital, biological and outer space security".

On Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban, which has become a common concern of SCO states over the regrouping of terror groups, Xi said the SCO states should continue to utilise platforms such as the mechanism of coordination and cooperation among Afghanistan's neighbours.

"Facts have shown that as long as we bear in mind the larger picture, shoulder our responsibilities and remain undisturbed by all sorts of distractions, we will be able to protect and promote the security and development interests of our member states," he said.

"We should step up strategic communication and coordination, bridge differences through dialogue, and replace competition with cooperation. We should truly respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and firmly support each other's endeavour for development and rejuvenation," he said.

Xi's remarks came as Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh.

India has made it very clear to China that until there is peace and tranquillity in border areas, the relationship between the two countries cannot progress.

In his address, Xi also made a pitch for the SCO members to synergise high-quality cooperation under his pet multi-billion dollar project the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with various countries' development strategies and regional cooperation initiatives.

The BRI is a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by President Xi when he came to power in 2013.

It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

The USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of the BRI.

India has strongly protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

India is also critical of the BRI, which drew global concerns over China's debt diplomacy of extending huge loans to smaller countries for unsustainable infrastructure projects.

"We need to enhance the connection of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with development strategies of various countries and regional cooperation initiatives," Xi said, adding that China will hold the third BRI forum this year.

SCO countries should further promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, speed up the development of port infrastructure and regional and international logistic corridors, and ensure stable and smooth functioning of regional industrial and supply chains, he said.

He also asked the member states to focus on practical cooperation and expedite economic recovery.

"Promoting economic growth is a common task for all countries in the region", he said.

"China stands ready to work with all sides to implement the Global Development Initiative (GDI) also proposed by him to keep to the right direction of economic globalisation, oppose protectionism unilateral sanctions and the overstretching of national security, and reject the moves of setting up barriers, decoupling and severing supply chains," he said.

He also proposed that the "SCO scale up local currency settlement between member states, expand cooperation on sovereign digital currency, and promote the establishment of an SCO development bank".

"China will carry out digital technology training programs in collaboration with the China-SCO Big Data Cooperation Center, and host an SCO national green development forum," he said.

Xi said SCO member states should better synergise high-quality cooperation under BRI with various countries' development strategies and regional cooperation initiatives, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

He also called for efforts to safeguard regional peace and ensure common security and strengthen exchanges and mutual learning among SCO and foster closer people-to-people ties.

"In the coming three years, China will provide SCO member states with 1,000 International Chinese Language Teachers Scholarships, offer 3,000 'Chinese Bridge' summer camp opportunities, and invite 100 young scientists to China for scientific research exchanges," he said.

China will also host events on rural revitalization and climate response, he said.

On Iran's admission as the new member of the SCO, Xi said "This will manifest the vitality of our SCO family".

The virtual summit under India's presidency was also attended by leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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