Since the onset of COVID-19, SCO members, committed to the Shanghai Spirit, have joined hands to fight against the virus and upheld regional development and stability. President Xi Jinping attended, not long ago, the SCO Heads of State Meeting. We hope that all parties will work together to earnestly deliver the outcomes of the Meeting, steadily advance the SCO's cooperation agenda and vigorously open up new vistas for its development in the post-COVID era.
The world economy is now confronted with the most severe recession since the end of World War II, with drastic contractions of international trade and investment and disruptions in the industrial and supply chains. In the meantime, the growing backlash against economic globalization and mounting protectionism and unilateralism have dealt a blow to the global governance system and multilateral institutions, posing daunting challenges to economic and social development of the region and beyond.
With a crisis comes both challenges and opportunities. Over the past 19 years since its inception, the SCO has risen to challenges, worked to turn crises into opportunities and maintained a sound and steady momentum of growth no matter how the world around us changes. With strong confidence and concerted efforts, we will be able to overcome the impacts of COVID-19, deepen cooperation in wide-ranging fields and achieve greater progress in SCO development. To this end, I wish to propose the following:
First, we need to actively foster a secure and stable environment for development. With uncertainties and destabilizing factors growing in the region, we need to work together to uphold regional peace and stability.
Joint counter-terrorism exercises must continue to be held in order to forestall sabotages by terrorist, separatist and extremist forces exploiting the pandemic. Institution building must be strengthened, and cooperation on deradicalization carried out to effectively address new threats and challenges such as cyber-terrorism and biosafety, and expand the breadth and depth of SCO cooperation on law enforcement and security. We need to guard against data security risks by implementing the Global Initiative on Data Security and work together to enhance data security governance capabilities. We will also cooperate with Afghanistan by making full use of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to support Afghanistan's national reconciliation process and help it restore stability and development at an early date.
Second, we need to earnestly cement the foundation for integrated development. Promoting integrated and interconnected development in keeping with the general trend of the world economy is a sure path to economic recovery of regional countries. Following the direction set by the renewed Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation, we need to leverage our complementarity and further substantiate areas of cooperation so as to set the economy on a recovery course.
Two weeks ago, China and other 14 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement to establish the world's most promising free trade area with the largest population and the most diverse membership. The RCEP will not only add new impetus to regional development and prosperity, but also serve as an important engine driving global growth. Within the framework of the SCO, we also need to improve liberalization and facilitation of regional trade and investment, and set about putting together institutional arrangements for SCO regional economic cooperation. We will further synergize Belt and Road cooperation with other member states' development strategies and regional cooperation initiatives. The Agreement on International Road Transportation Facilitation must be earnestly implemented, and the formulation of an SCO program for road development accelerated, to promote high-quality connectivity in the region.
While meeting pandemic control requirements, we need to build a regional network of "fast tracks" and "green lanes" to facilitate the flow of people and goods and contribute to economic reopening in our countries. We need to continue to explore viable approaches to the setting-up of an SCO development bank to energize financial cooperation under the SCO. Cooperation models for modern agriculture will be explored, and farm produce trade expanded to ensure food security in regional countries. China hopes to step up cooperation with other parties in trade in services and share the benefits of its growth. China will publish an index of its trade with other SCO members. We will accelerate the development of the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Zone and the SCO demonstration base for exchanges and training on agricultural technologies. All these joint efforts will enable SCO practical cooperation to grow in greater depth.
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