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State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Attends Video Conference of SCO Foreign Ministers


State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended a video conference of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Beijing on 13 May. The conference was chaired by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia, SCO chair for year 2020. Foreign ministers of SCO member states, SCO Secretary-General and Director of the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure attended the meeting.

Wang noted the ongoing spread of COVID-19 infections worldwide, stressing that people's health and safety are in grave jeopardy. The world economy is under mounting recessional pressure. SCO member states face a daunting challenge. The SCO needs to continue championing the Shanghai Spirit and the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. It needs to strengthen solidarity and coordination and act proactively. We must bring the "SCO strength" to bear on winning an early victory against the virus and getting the economic and social development back on track in the region and beyond.

First, let us promote solidarity and coordination and jointly win the global fight against COVID-19. There is no more important agenda than saving lives, or more urgent task than international solidarity and cooperation.

We call on all governments to rise above differences and frictions and focus on tackling domestic infections, enhancing international cooperation and saving lives, in order to provide the leadership needed to win the fight against COVID-19.

We call on people around the world to defy pessimism and fear and reject attempts to politicize the response, label the virus, and stigmatize any specific country, in order to shore up extensive public support to win the fight against COVID-19.

We call on the media across the world to observe professional ethics, adhere to science and reason, stick to facts and truth, and commit to impartiality and balance, in order to foster a conducive atmosphere for winning the fight against COVID-19.

We need to deliver the SCO leaders' statement on joint efforts against the threat of epidemics adopted at the 2018 Qingdao Summit, and formulate an action-plan as soon as possible to guide anti-epidemic cooperation. The SCO needs to optimize its infectious disease notification mechanism, set up an SCO epidemic database and launch collective and coordinated response mechanisms in the border areas between SCO members. China stands ready to provide further assistance to fellow SCO members to the best of its ability, continue to engage in information-sharing and joint R&D of drugs and vaccines, and work with all others to build a community of health for all.

Second, let us promote security cooperation to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. Common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security should remain our overarching objective. We need to consolidate mutual political trust, support each other's efforts to safeguard political security and social stability, and take security cooperation to greater depth and breadth. We need to join hands and build stronger security safeguards. We must work together to deny terrorists, separatists and extremists any chance to wreak havoc in our region, and take forward cooperation in key areas such as counterterrorism, narcotics control and border management. We need to positively study the establishment of an SCO cooperation and consultation mechanism on biosecurity.

On Afghanistan, we must stay committed to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned principle, facilitate a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process, and support Afghanistan in defending its national unity and political stability. The role of the SCO-Afghanistan contact group as a cooperation platform with Afghanistan should be fully harnessed to encourage the main political forces in Afghanistan to seize the opportunity, bridge differences, and break new ground in national reconciliation and reconstruction at an early date.

Third, let us promote mutually beneficial cooperation and pursue common development. While getting prepared for a possible long-term fight against COVID-19, we must step up policy coordination and think up flexible and diverse ways to further advance Belt and Road cooperation. Such efforts will help minimize the economic and social impact of COVID-19 on our respective countries and build synergy to avert the downward risk on the world economy. We must focus on keeping industrial and supply chains in our region safe and open. As long as containment measures are properly enforced at road ports on our borders, we need to support the expeditious restoration of their full cargo handling capacity. The China-Europe Railway Express, a lifeline for freight transport, should be put to best use to help our respective countries combat the virus and resume economic activity. To facilitate the movement of key business personnel and those working in essential manufacturing and service sectors and the shipment of critical supplies and raw materials, "fast lanes" and "green lanes" should be established as quickly as possible.

We need to take multi-pronged measures to foster new areas of cooperation. For instance, we could speed up the commercialization of research outcomes in science, technology and innovation, and carry out cooperation in big data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and 5G. We could increase the use of local currency settlement. We should also actively implement the SCO Cooperation Program on Food Security, explore new ways of modern agricultural cooperation, and keep the agricultural supply and market stable in our region. We need to strengthen people-to-people exchange and cultural cooperation. Our media organizations and think tanks should be encouraged to have more interactions, which will contribute to greater public support for our wide-ranging cooperation.

Fourth, let us promote multilateralism and jointly defend and improve the international system. We must uphold multilateralism and safeguard the UN-centered international system as well as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We must firmly reject self-centered moves of unilateralism, and oppose sanctions and "long-arm jurisdiction" that have no basis in international law, in an effort to uphold fairness and justice in the world. We need to seek closer exchanges and cooperation between the SCO and the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Under the current circumstances, it is of special importance that we support the role of the World Health Organization in leading and coordinating the global fight against COVID-19. We should take the initiative to offer SCO solutions to global challenges, and play a more constructive role in improving global governance.

Wang noted that COVID-19 has affected the daily operation of this organization. In response, we must think creatively to conduct cooperation and exchange in the context of fighting the virus. China will give full support to the Russian presidency, coordinate positions on relevant matters with fellow SCO members in the run up to the Summit and put forward new initiatives and measures to galvanize SCO cooperation in the "post COVID-19 era".

Participants to the conference expressed concern over the substantial impact of COVID-19 on world economic and social development, and called on the international community to uphold multilateralism, support the UN system in leading and coordinating global efforts, and pull together to combat the virus. On the basis of their already very close cooperation, SCO members need to continue to display the Shanghai Spirit, support and assist each other in difficult times. It is particularly important to collaborate with WHO and jointly safeguard regional and global public health security.

The participants agreed on the need to enhance macroeconomic policy coordination, foster a fair and transparent environment for trade and investment, and facilitate the smooth, orderly flow of people and goods to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on regional economies.

They commended China's remarkable progress in fighting COVID-19 and expressed appreciation for China's support in various forms to other SCO members.

They undertook to enhance coordination and cooperation on Afghanistan and other regional hotspots, and promote a greater role of the SCO in regional affairs.

Many also stressed the importance to uphold the UN-centered international system and the international order anchored in international law, to support WHO in playing its crucial role, and to reject unilateralism, bullying and stigmatization.

A Statement by the SCO Foreign Ministers Concerning the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) was adopted at the meeting.

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