Shanghai Cooperation Organization convenes 24th council meeting in Kazakhstan

The 24th annual summit of the SCO is expected to focus on strengthening regional security and stability, economic and trade cooperation

July 03, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends 24th meeting of the council of heads of states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Photo via Hua Chunying/X)

The 24th meeting of the Council of Heads of States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opened in Astana, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, July 3 and will conclude on Thursday. Members are meeting to discuss and find ways to enhance their regional cooperation in various fields including security and stability, trade and economy.

As per the official communiques and statement issued by Kazakhstani President Kassim Jomart Tokayev, common approaches to solving security problems and economic cooperation among the member countries is expected to be the central issue in the summit this year. Reducing trade barriers and harmonizing regulations would be on the agenda too, apart from finding ways to enhance cooperation under the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

All member states, except India, have had BRI projects running in their countries for over a decade now. China is seeking to take the projects to an advanced level with greater connectivity among the partners, particularly from the countries in Central Asia, on its agenda.  

Most of the heads of states and governments of SCO member countries are attending the summit, except Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is represented by Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will also attend the summit, apart from representatives from various other organizations.  

Chinese president Xi Jinping, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Iranian caretaker president Mohammad Mokhber reached Kazakhstan early for several bilateral meetings held on the sidelines.

Upon his arrival in Astana on Tuesday, Jinping issued a statement saying that he is looking forward to discussing the “future of the organization and ways to advance cooperation so as to achieve new and greater progress for this important multilateral mechanism,” Xinhua reported.  

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a press conference on Monday that all the members have upheld the Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development. China believes that during the Astana summit there would be a consensus among the participating members on promoting mutual “security, stability and development.”  

China will take over the rotating presidency of SCO from Kazakhstan after the summit concludes. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will also attend the meetings of the SCO. He will attend as part of a cooperation mechanism between the two organizations approved by the General Assembly last September through a resolution

Upon arrival to Astana, Guterres praised SCO’s role in maintaining stability in the region, and noted that it is striving to “foster deeper economic integration and multidimensional cooperation” which also contributes to regional security as its original goal. 

SCO was established in 2001 by six original members (China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan). It has now expanded to become a 9 member organization with India, Pakistan and Iran added later. Belarus is set to join the grouping as the 10th full member from this year. 14 other countries participate in SCO as dialogue partners.

The group represents half of the world’s total population and almost one third of global GDP now, and is considered crucial for building a multipolar world order to counter the hegemonic approaches adopted by the countries in the West.