On 16 November 2017, talented students from SCO member-states, who are now being educated at Beijing's universities, gathered for the 21st Century Leader competition under the motto We Support the Shanghai Spirit at SCO Headquarters. This now traditional competition was dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the tenth anniversary of signing the Treaty on Long-Term Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between SCO member-states.
The competition is to promote the SCO goals and tasks among young people who seek a political career in developing the region's geopolitical economic, social and cultural characteristics.
"The SCO is our common home. Every young person is a full owner of his or her large home where almost 50 percent of the world's population lives. A safe and prosperous future on a vast territory stretching from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea depends on your knowledge, position in life and civic activity. Good luck," SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov told the young people.
The competition involved four students from each SCO member-state. The winners received valuable prizes, while the other participants received honourary certificates. During the competition, students performed musical acts for the event's guests, representatives of SCO member-state diplomatic missions.
Beketai Artykbayev, a second-year student from China Industry University, noted that the competition unlocked a student's potential and helped him or her learn something new. "It was a powerful but friendly competition. I am very proud that I was able to represent the Kyrgyz Republic at this competition, and I hope that I was up to the task," he added.
"I would like to thank the SCO Secretariat for holding this event which is important in every respect. It provides an opportunity to better understand and comprehend the importance of involving young people in SCO affairs," Semyon Khangashkanov, a fourth-year student from the International University of Economics and Business, noted.
Anel Zharylkasynova, a fourth-year student from the International University of Economics and Business, said the competition was a wonderful venue for unlocking new potential and replenishing one's knowledge. "We trained for several months, and we were drawn to the SCO concept to the point that I am already planning to tie my work in the future with this Organisation," she noted emotionally.
Anel Zharylkasynova Kairatkazy, a student from Kazakhstan, won the competition, with Mr Alimov presenting her with a certificate and a gift. The second and third place finalists also received certificates.
The event featured a packed cultural programme with an ethnic tinge. Students from Pakistan presented a dazzling national wedding ceremony. Yerlanuly Markulan, a student from Kazakhstan, thrilled everyone by playing the Dombra, a Kazakh musical instrument. A budding poet from the Kyrgyz Republic recited his poem, "Shanghai Spirit." Semyon Khangashkanov, a student from Russia, performed a song in Chinese. Temurmalik Kamolov, a student from Tajikistan, performed "Azizon," a melodious Tajik song. Female students from the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic performed a friendship dance. The audience also enjoyed the sounds of a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, played by student Chen Xinzhu.
The competition is part of events of the SCO-Our Common Home comprehensive programme, being implemented since 2016 at SCO Headquarters. The SCO Model interactive game and a competition between students for the best scientific article titled "The SCO's 15th Anniversary: Assertion, Development, Prospects", have also been held under this programme.