A gala reception to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: 16 years of steady progress

A gala reception to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was held at the Legendale Hotel in Beijing on 14 June 2017.

Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China Wang Yi was the main guest at this event.

The reception was attended by about 400 guests, including Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai, high-ranking representatives of Chinese ministries and departments, heads of the diplomatic missions of the SCO member states, observer states and dialogue partners, ambassadors of CIS, ASEAN and EU countries accredited in Beijing as well as heads of representative offices of international organisations. Outstanding scientists, prominent public leaders, business representatives, and a broad range of Chinese and foreign journalists also took part in the event.

In his welcome speech, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov cordially congratulated all those present on the SCO's 16th birthday and noted that this anniversary opens up a new page in its history. "Five days ago, the leaders of the SCO member countries met in Astana and made a landmark decision to grant membership to two states that enjoy prestige in the region and beyond — India and Pakistan. The Big Eight has appeared on the political map of the world. It unites almost half of the world's population and occupies about a quarter of its surface," Mr Alimov said.

He emphasised the fact that "eight states are united by the Shanghai spirit and the goals of building a safe common home and taking part in constructive joint development. This is a new page in SCO history that is being written by the peoples of India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan," Mr Alimov said.

Speaking before the guests, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi congratulated the SCO on yet another anniversary and noted that "after the Astana summit where landmark decisions were taken, the international community has great expectations for the SCO. We are witnessing rapid development of international cooperation, and the SCO countries should keep pace with the time, displaying the Shanghai spirit and common solidarity," Mr Wang Yi said.
He said that China has assumed the SCO presidency for the next year, and its government is relying on the traditional support of its member states in fulfilling this important mission. "As part of its presidency, China has already planned to hold 58 events that are directly related to the SCO's agenda and over a hundred general undertakings. We will do our best for the SCO countries to make progress on the road to our common bright future," Mr Wang Yi said.

The exhibition of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the SCO countries timed to SCO Day evoked much public interest. It included 16 unique natural, historical and cultural landmarks in the eight SCO states.

Guests listened to the Chinese State String Symphony conducted by concertmasters Zhao Kunyu and Alt Fu Vei, prominent violinist Liu Zhiyun, cellist Xu Yulian and contrabass player Zhang Xuejiei — the best performers of chamber music in China. The orchestra is one of China's few string ensembles.

The guests were very impressed by the performance of Wang Jiyun, a famous master of the traditional Chinese art of painting pictures on the inside surface of a glass vessel. He has won many prizes and awards and is deputy chairman of Snuff Bottle, a famous special council of China's outstanding craftsmen and the director of the museum of the same name.

During the event, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and heads of the diplomatic missions of the SCO member states met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. They exchanged views on cooperation in the SCO during China's presidency in 2017-2018.