Silk Way TV and CGTN teleconference: Anticipating the 2024 SCO Summit in Astana

Silk Way teleconference
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A teleconference linking Silk Way TV channel in Astana and China Global Television Network (CGTN) in Beijing focused on the highly anticipated 2024 Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)which is set to take place in Astana on July 3rd and 4th. Under the theme “Strengthening Multilateral Dialogue, Striving for Sustainable Peace and Development”, this year’s summit is poised to address key issues such as economic cooperation, regional security, and digital transformation, Kazinform News Agency correspondent reports.

Ainur Imangali and Dauren Issagulov of Silk Way TV channel sat down with TV host of CGTN Yang Chengxi to discuss how over the past decades, the SCO has made significant contributions to regional security and has evolved with a vision of fostering a closer community with a shared future. Its focus has broadened to encompass areas such as the digital economy, finance, free trade, transportation, and energy.

Dr. Xu Wenhong, a researcher at the Institute of Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, joined the teleconference to highlight the consistent themes of security and development within the SCO.

Silk Way teleconference
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According to Dr. Xu, the organization, initially established as the Shanghai Five in 1996, has always prioritized these themes. Despite the expansion of the SCO to include nine full members, three observer states, and 14 dialogue partners, security and development remain central.

Dr. Xu emphasized that counterterrorism is a top priority, along with addressing threats such as drug crime, transnational organized crime, and information security.

Another guest of the teleconference Yersultan Zhanseitov, Head of the Chinese and Asian Studies Program at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, noted the importance of the recent SCO foreign ministers meeting, joining the hosts in the studio in Astana.

In his words, this meeting, which saw the signing of over 22 documents, was crucial preparation for the upcoming summit. He acknowledged the fruitful year under Kazakhstan’s leadership, with priorities in transportation, the energy sector, and digital transformation. Kazakhstan’s role in regional economic cooperation, leveraging the SCO framework, was also emphasized. Zhanseitov pointed out that Kazakhstan’s strategic location in Eurasia positions it as a key player in transport connectivity and energy cooperation.

Zhanseitov emphasized that as the SCO member state Kazakhstan should prioritize transport connectivity. Given the fact that Kazakhstan is in the middle of the largest continent in the world, it needs to be interconnected with everyone. The second priority for Kazakhstan, according to him, is energy cooperation. Kazakhstan is strong in exporting energy resources, oil, gas, and uranium.

“And the third is, of course, one of the most important topics is digital transformation. Today, we see that most of the processes are being digitalized. All the businesses are working faster and more efficiently. And the other topic comes together with the digital transformation, the cybersecurity issue. So, given all of that, well, it's not the whole complete list, of course, but that pretty much forms up the interests of Kazakhstan in SCO,” he stressed.

When asked about what new candidates joining the SCO come to his mind and what that would mean for the organization’s future, Zhanseitov pointed out that the SCO’s influence continues to grow, with potential new members such as Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Zhanseitov noted that the interconnectedness of the economies within the SCO is a significant factor. China, as a major economy, has a vested interest in energy security, and initiatives like the Energy Hub are seen as beneficial for all members, especially Kazakhstan. The interest of countries like Türkiye in joining the SCO further underscores the organization’s expanding influence.

Talking about the criteria for evaluating new members of the SCO the speaker said they include the stipulation that countries should not harbor hostility towards each other. They must also uphold common values, such as combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism, and prioritizing development. This involves aligning their national agendas with these principles and reflecting them on an international scale, concludes Zhanseitov.

Dr. Xu Wenhong, in turn, reminded hosts of the teleconference that since 2012, China proposed the One Belt, One Road initiative, and Kazakhstan and Central Asia are the core regions of the One Belt, One Road initiative.

Silk Way teleconference
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“So, without a good development of Kazakhstan and Central Asian states, there would be no success of the One Belt, One Road initiative. China also proposed a community with a shared future for mankind, and China wants to set a good example for the world of the community with a shared future for mankind. That's why China attaches such attention to Central Asia and Kazakhstan, especially Kazakhstan. And that's why the interaction between China and Kazakhstan is so active,” he stressed.

He also drew attention of those participating in the teleconference to that special Shanghai spirit, ‘which means mutual respect, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for the diversity of civilizations, pursue common development and made the SCO an important international player on the international arenas’.

Taking back the floor Yersultan Zhanseitov insisted that ‘there are still threats like terrorism in our regions like what happened in Moscow not so long ago. It proves that there is a big threat still exists. He claimed that one of the ways to solve that is sharing more information within the SCO countries and stepping up cyber security. According to Zhanseitov, the SCO should develop rules and regulations within the SCO so everyone could feel safe within the organization.

Silk Way teleconference
Photo credit: Screenshot

To wrap up the teleconference, the hosts thanked the guests for sharing their insights and bringing some valuable perspectives on the range of topics related to the present and future of the SCO.

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