Chinese President Xi Jinping (6th R front) poses for a group photo with other participants and observers of the 16th SCO Council of Heads of State meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, June 24, 2016. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)
Chinese President Xi Jinping's just-concluded three-nation Eurasia tour gained new momentum for the Belt and Road Initiative and boosted the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. [Special coverage]
On June 17-24, Xi paid state visits to Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan and attended the 16th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.
The tour came just three months after Xi's last visit to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), and marked a fourth straight year in which Xi visited Central Asia, Wang said, noting that Xi attended over 60 meetings and other events throughout the trip.
The visit, he added, further enhanced China's traditional friendship and strategic cooperation with countries in the region.
CONSOLIDATING TRADITIONAL FRIENDSHIP
China has enjoyed a traditional friendship with Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan, defined by long-standing exchange, Wang said. Xi's well-timed visit has lifted China's relations with the three countries to a new level, the minister added.
During the tour, China and each of the three countries decided to elevate their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
The upgrade will give inpetus to the "16+1" cooperation involving China and the CEE nations, the building of a China-Europe strategic partnership, and the development of the SCO.
Wang said Xi also held in-depth talks with leaders of the countries. They agreed to support each other's core interests and seek common development. They also agreed to expand security ties and support each other in international affairs.
The joint statements issued by China with Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan fully reflected their desire to deepen bilateral relations and expand cooperation that would benefit all parties, said Wang.
People-to-people and cultural activities, he added, were also an important pillar and highlight of the tour and demonstrated the profound friendship between peoples.
In particular, upon arrival in Serbia, Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, paid homage to the three Chinese journalists killed in the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on May 7, 1999.
The fact that Serbia's president, prime minister and other cabinet members joined them in paying tribute indicated that the time-honored traditional friendship will be passed on from generation to generation, Wang said.
PROMOTING BELT AND ROAD, PRACTICAL COOPERATION
The Belt and Road Initiative featured prominently during Xi's tour. Wang said it exemplifies the will of those who seek development and resonates with the trend of the times.
Proposed by Xi in 2013, the initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links China with Europe through Central and Western Asia by inland routes, and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe by sea.
During the tour, Xi summarized the results of Belt and Road cooperation over the past three years.
According to Xi, the initiative has achieved visible progress. Inter-connectivity is taking shape, economic corridors are being built, and the China-Europe freight train service has been growing under the brand CHINA RAILWAY Express. Trade and investment have surged, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges have intensified.
Xi put forward thoughts for the next phase of development, noting that China is willing to work with countries interested in building a "green, healthy, intelligent and peaceful" new Silk Road.
Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan were among the first countries to respond to the initiative, and are important countries on the route, Wang said.
A series of key projects are being carried out in the three countries, such as the Hungary-Serbia railway, the Pupin Bridge on the Danube River in Belgrade, the expansion and upgrading of Kostolac Power Plant, the China-Europe freight train service, the Qamchiq Tunnel in Uzbekistan, as well as the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline system.
PROMOTING SCO COOPERATION, SHANGHAI SPIRIT
The Chinese president addressed the 16th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Tashkent, promoting SCO cooperation and the Shanghai Spirit.
"This shows the importance China attaches to the SCO, a key platform for regional cooperation," Wang said.
China stands ready to work together with other SCO members to promote the Shanghai Spirit and the expansion of SCO cooperation, he added.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the SCO, which Wang said is an important occasion to reflect on its past and look into the future.
The SCO now is blessed with new opportunities and, at the same time, faces the challenging task of how to better move ahead on security and economic cooperation, Wang said.
Speaking at the meeting, Xi hailed the remarkable achievements of the SCO since its establishment 15 years ago. He highlighted the Shanghai Spirit advocated by the SCO -- mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development.
The SCO countries signed the Treaty of Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, and are moving toward accepting Pakistan and India as new members.
"All this shows the SCO has found out a new model for an international organization in line with the latest developments of our time, and is now one of the most vigorous and influential of its kind," the Chinese foreign minister said.
Xi put forward a five-point proposal for the SCO to strengthen ties, calling for efforts to further promote the Shanghai Spirit and cooperate in various fields.
The Tashkent Declaration issued at the summit drew heavily on Xi's proposals, which won plenty of support, Wang said.
Xi also met with a number of national leaders on the sidelines of the summit. The leaders voiced their support for the Silk Road Economic Belt, and vowed to pair their development strategies with it.
PRESENTING CHINESE POLICIES, STANCES
Wang said Xi's three-nation tour has also been an opportunity to present China's policies, points of view and its plans for reform.
The Chinese president stressed that China has found its own development path and achieved remarkable success. It will stick to its set development goals for the coming decades, which calls for a peaceful and stable external environment. He also made it clear that China will be dedicated to safeguarding and contributing to world peace and security.
Xi also elaborated on China's "new normal" of economic development. The Chinese economy achieved its expected growth target last year despite challenges and had a good start in the first quarter of this year. He said China will remain an anchor of the world economy and a source of growth.
Xi's remarks showed China's confidence and openness, which will help boost international confidence in the country, Wang said.
Xi presented China's stance on the South China Sea issue during his tour. At the Tashkent summit, the SCO members agreed the issue should be resolved through peaceful negotiations among parties involved.