By Qiang Wei, Qu Song, People’s Daily

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Forum on People-to-People Friendship and the Forum on Friendship Cities were recently held in Qingdao city, east China’s Shandong Province.

According to data released by the forums, China and relevant SCO countries have formed over 450 pairs of friendship cities in the past 22 years since the organization’s establishment. The mutually beneficial cooperation among friendship cities of the SCO has led to the implementation of a large number of projects for the benefit of the people in new areas such as smart city governance, data economy and innovation development.

Friendship among the people is a fundamental force for world peace and development and is a basic precondition for win-win cooperation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to hold an SCO non-governmental friendship forum in November 2020, which received strong endorsement and warm support from SCO member states.

At the SCO Samarkand Summit last September, President Xi proposed to host an SCO forum on sister cities, which further enriched the connotation of the SCO in promoting non-governmental friendly cooperation.

Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, and Qingdao established sister-city relations in 2021. Deng Xiaoping Street in the west part of Bishkek is the starting section of a road between the Kyrgyz capital and Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan located in the south of the country. Last year, Qingdao and Bishkek conducted cooperation in the upgrading construction of the street, which was included in the list of deliverables of the meeting of heads of state of China and Kyrgyzstan by the website of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Human beings share a common future, said Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Edil Baisalov. To achieve modernization, a country needs to pursue common development through solidarity and cooperation. Non-governmental friendship is conducive to promoting solidarity and cooperation and jointly addressing global challenges.

Supporting the establishment of sister-city relations and comprehensively advancing sub-national and sister-city cooperation have continuously expanded the “circle of friends” among SCO members.

Qingdao, for instance, has expanded exchanges and cooperation with cities in SCO countries on all fronts, and has now established friendship-city relations or confirmed its intention in this regard with 15 cities in 12 relevant SCO countries, including its new sister cities such as the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, Bishkek, and Armenia’s capital Yerevan.

As of the end of March 2023, relevant SCO countries had had 419 investment projects in Qingdao, with the utilized foreign investment totaling $240 million. In the first three months of this year, relevant SCO countries set up 13 projects in Qingdao, with the actual arrival of foreign investment reaching $380,000.

People-to-people friendly exchanges among relevant SCO countries and mutually beneficial cooperation among friendship cities have witnessed fruitful highlights, and the “Shanghai Spirit” has gained wide acceptance, said Lin Songtian, president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Lin added that there are more and more member states, observer states and dialogue partners of the SCO, which fully demonstrates how the ‘Shanghai Spirit,’ with main themes of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development, is in line with the trend of the times, wins the sincere support of the people, and sets an example for building a new type of international relations.

SCO countries attach great importance to people-to-people diplomacy, and actively support their friendship organizations or establish agencies to carry out people-to-people friendly exchanges and cooperation, which greatly promotes mutual understanding and amity among the people.

In recent years, all parties have actively conducted exchanges and cooperation in people-to-people and cultural fields such as women, youth, culture, education and sports, initiated well-recognized programs including the women’s forum, the children’s art exhibition and the youth exchange camp, and organized art festivals, film festivals, cultural exhibitions and other thematic activities, enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and mutual trust among people of various countries.


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