Rashid Alimov, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, revealed that current conflicts and confrontations in the international arena reminds the world that a new era of international administration has begun. As the world’s biggest trans-regional organization, SCO is the harbinger of this new era.

Rashid Alimov was invited by Kaisun Consulting Ltd. to attend a forum on Belt and Road Initiative in Hong Kong. (Photo by Alan)

Massource: Good afternoon! As a respected veteran diplomat, you must have some experience that you want to share with our audience.

Alimov: I have different types of experiences, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Also, I have different approaches to solving these problems.

Today, SCO is going into a new era. Of course, the organization has become stronger; it represents 44% of the world’s population and one-quarter of the global GDP. There are four nuclear powers and the agenda of the SCO is positive. Seventeen years ago, it was difficult to predict that SCO would become what is today—the biggest trans-regional organization in the world. Therefore, its tasks are different from the previous ones, except for one which is SCO will never, ever become a military organization.

SCO is striving for equal partnership in order to develop multilaterally together. Today, it shows by example, equal partnership of different types of countries, and it makes every member an integrated part of the organization because everyone is treated equally. The eight members have equal voice in the organization.

Today we can see that SCO symbolizes, as an example, new international relationships. It is not one country dictating everything; instead, member countries gather around a table and discuss every issue together. SCO is an organization where national interests compliment the regional interests. The member countries listen to one another and pay attention to each other’s voice.  This is the “Shanghai Spirit”; this is our common capital. This is something that we want to pass on to our future generations.

Massource: Most of the western media tend to associate SCO with NATO. What is your reaction?

Alimov: First and foremost, the charter of the SCO has clearly identified its role. During the previous 17 years, SCO has never tried to recruit military allies. We do conduct military drills, but it is for anti-terrorism. It is very important that these drills are not directed to any country or organization. We will strengthen the cooperation to fight against terrorism. During the previous nine months, there were some 950 terrorist attacks that occurred in different parts of the world. Last year, 103 countries around the world had experienced terrorist attacks. The trend seems to be that no country can be free of terrorist attack, so we must cohesively approach fighting against evil. We have created a system within SCO to prevent such attacks. It is successful because of the common trust within the organization and because of our cooperation with the United Nations. We also have good relationships with Asia Pacific countries.

China has contributed greatly in world anti-terrorist efforts. President Xi has announced that there are 2000 delegates participating in a program on anti-terrorism. There will be representatives from different sectors of the anti-terrorism community.

During the presidency of China in SCO, more than 200 events have been organized and for the first time, the SCO Women’s forum was organized. In May, the first Women’s summit was held. There was also the first Media Forum in SCO during the presidency of China, discussing the role of the press and the coverage of SCO. No one dictated anything to anyone.

Terrorism is about harming and killing people. We do not associate terrorism with a specific region, state, ethnic group or religion, because terrorism is not about any of these things. The goal of terrorism is to kill innocent civilians, although it claims to serve a noble purpose. Therefore, we will continue to work together to uproot the foundation of terrorism.

Massource: What is your opinion on trade protectionism? Will it replace the role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)?

Alimov: There are a set of rules and regulations for international trade established by the WTO. All the members of SCO believe that everyone should abide by these rules and regulations. Unilateral actions can never be accepted and can never serve the purpose of common development.

So, in this framework, we collectively develop economic cooperation among SCO countries. In Qingdao, several programs were adopted. In Dushanbe, we just had a meeting of prime ministers where a foundation has been laid for many programs of cooperation, including programs to simplify trade and food safety.

The most important program is the one that focuses on the development of roads, including expressways and railways. Our approach is to improve the infrastructure system in every aspect. It is important not to treat these programs as being against any country or organization. Each country in SCO has their own development strategy and our common goal is to pursue the wellbeing of our people. It is very important to combine our develop strategies, particularly national economic strategy.

Members of SCO always fight against the barriers of free trade and economic sanctions.

No matter how tough the situation, the countries of SCO will always follow their own path. The goals and actions of SCO reflect the wish of the people. Tourism is a good example. Two years ago, SCO outlined a development plan for tourism. Consequently, the number of tourists traveling to member SCO countries has increased by 200 million, and this number is from the International Tourism Organization.  SCO will continue cooperating with each other.

I have been a diplomat for many years, and it seems that we have been moving into a new era of international relationships, and each step of the process has been formalized through SCO because it does not matter which power is stronger. In SCO, each country respects each other and trusts each other, each country wants to have an excellent relationship with its neighbors. We have a great common history that is shared by everyone in the past, particularly through the Silk Road and Tea Road. It is a revival of the past, step by step, like what has happened 2000 years along the Silk Road, but without camels.