On 29 September 2020, at the initiative of Yunnan University and Kunming television together with the support of the SCO Secretariat, a video conference took place on the life and work of Sayyid Ajall Shams al-Din Omar (1211-1279), the governor of Yunnan during the 13th century.
The event was attended by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, Director of the Centre of People's Diplomacy of the SCO in Uzbekistan Kabuljon Sobirov as well as representatives of Chinese and Uzbekistani science and academia.
In his opening remarks, the SCO Secretary-General stressed that, established in olden times, the traditions of friendship, mutual support and joint development serve as a solid foundation for modern-day relations between China and the countries of Central Asia which is the core of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
"Over a rather brief period of governance in the Yunnan province (only six years), Sayyid Shams al-Din went down in the province's history for his noble deeds in the promotion of socioeconomic development. His contemporaries and scholars describe him as a truly noble person of strong will and determination, a man of constructive and reformist spirit. The governor reformed Yunnan's administrative system, built a functional irrigation and water management system, and a dam to control the level of water feeding Lake Dianchi. He introduced progressive taxation, improved the population's level of education, built the first Confucius temple — and these are only a few of his achievements.
In 2019, Sayyid Shams al-Din's memorial and grave were included on the list of China's national cultural heritage.
On 22 June 2016, while on his visit to Uzbekistan, the President of China Xi Jinping addressed the Legislative Chamber of Uzbekistan's parliament and pointed out the importance of restoring the historical ties between our countries and peoples. He specifically noted the role of Bukhara-born Sayyid Shams al-Din in building and strengthening these ties.
Both in olden times and today, the example of Sayyid Shams al-Din and his productive efforts contribute to improving cooperation in joint research for the purpose of restoring the former glory of the Silk Road, historical figures and links between our countries and peoples across the SCO," Vladimir Norov concluded.
Director of the Kunming television Fang Xiudong noted that the conference will serve as a basis for filming a documentary about Sayyid Shams al-Din.
Li Qingsheng, Vice President of the Yunnan Society for Zheng He Studies (a descendant of Sayyid Shams al-Din, a Chinese Navy admiral who completed
seven great voyages), provided more insight into the noble activities of Sayyid Shams al-Din not only in Yunnan but all over China.
Ma Yingsheng, Vice President of the Yunnan Society for Zheng He Studies, presented a report on the historical sources for studying the genealogy of Sayyid Shams al-Din.
Yao Jide, Director of the School of International Relations at Yunnan University, reviewed the existing Chinese and foreign research into the family history of Sayyid Shams al-Din.
Abdulahat Khodjaev, historian and sinologist from the Oriental Studies Institute at the Uzbekistani Academy of Sciences, shared the findings that by origin, Sayyid Shams al-Din belonged to the ethnic group of Karluks.
Mirsodiq Ishoqov, professor of the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies, spoke about the life and career of another outstanding politician, Ahmad Fanakati. Descendant of the Khonigrads, he rose to one of the most powerful official positions in China and managed the state's finances and economy for 22 years.
Khalim Turaev, professor of the Bukhara State University, reported that during the Yuan Dynasty's rule in 1279-1368, certain Bukhara natives who settled in China made an immense contribution to the recovery and development of the country's shattered economy. Sayyid Shams al-Din was one of them. His successors continued his noble efforts and expanded his contribution to the strengthening of relations between provinces and the central government, and to inter-ethnic unity.
Natalya Karimova, professor of the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies, spoke about the history of diplomatic relations between Central Asia and China in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Azalshokh Khamroev, Director of the Bukhara Museum in Memory of the Victims of Repression, presented a report on the political, social and cultural life in Bukhara in the 13th and 14th centuries.
All video conference participants noted the importance of continuing the research into the history and culture of the SCO nations.