On 15 July, Beijing hosted a news conference with SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming on the results of his trip to the SCO founding states. The news conference lasted three hours and brought together some 50 media outlets taking part in the online and offline formats.
Key points:
— There is a need to reconsider the place and role of the SCO in the new environment and develop a strategy to resist new challenges and threats.
Zhang Ming: "It was my first visit to the SCO member states since I took office as SCO Secretary-General. The main goal of the trip was to discuss various areas of activity within the SCO. The member states are facing an important task of finding the best possible way to adjust to the current global changes, develop and keep up with the times, continue improving mechanisms to ensure the security of the SCO member states and stability within the organisation's area of responsibility, and step up efforts to counter attempts at external interference into the domestic affairs of the member states."
— Countries have lined up to become full members, observers or dialogue partners of the SCO.
The SCO has received 11 applications to join the organisation in one or another capacity or to upgrade the status of existing relations.
Zhang Ming: "The Republic of Belarus has officially submitted a membership application. It seems that Minsk has concluded that the SCO values and principles are the same as the Belarusian ones, and the multifaceted cooperation that is steadily gaining momentum within the organisation serves the interests of Belarus. As for the timeframe, it is necessary to keep in mind that the SCO takes all decisions by consensus. If the organisation reaches an agreement, it will launch the legal procedure to admit the Republic of Belarus into the SCO. Last year, the SCO heads of state decided at a council meeting in Dushanbe to begin the legal procedure of granting membership to Iran. We expect the SCO heads of state to adopt a memorandum of obligations for the Islamic Republic of Iran to receive SCO membership at their meeting in September."

— Do not compare the NATO agenda and the SCO agenda. The SCO is not a military bloc.
Zhang Ming: "NATO is the largest military bloc, a product of the Cold War. The North Atlantic Alliance declares itself a purely defensive association but holds on to a confrontational bloc mentality. We all know what happened in
Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq and Syria is the result of NATO's activity over the past 30 years, which has led to numerous human losses. NATO is currently striving to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Let us not compare the goals of NATO and the goals of the SCO. The SCO is not a military bloc; it is solely a constructive association that works towards common peace and wellbeing, and protecting its space from new threats and challenges. Our organisation makes a constructive contribution to maintaining peace and stability in the entire world. To justify its existence, NATO invents new enemies and considers the strengthening of other countries' economic and military potential to be a threat to its security. If NATO could fundamentally reevaluate its priorities and focus on counteracting the real threats facing mankind, such as terrorism, separatism, extremism, drug trafficking, organised trans-border crime, human trafficking and others, it would be possible to talk about opportunities for substantial interaction between the SCO and NATO."

— Uzbekistan, after receiving the chairmanship from Tajikistan last September, immediately proposed an event-packed agenda.
Zhang Ming: "The Uzbek party has planned a series of events, from the expert level to the ministerial level. Over half of them have been held. In late July, Tashkent will host a meeting of the SCO Foreign Ministers Council, which will adopt the agenda for the meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council and a draft of its main political document, the Samarkand Declaration. As you all know, the meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council will take place in the historic city of Samarkand, an important link of the Silk Road. Participants in the meeting will adopt several documents, including the comprehensive plan for 2023-2027 on the implementation of the terms of the Treaty on Long-Term Neighbourly Relations, Friendship and Cooperation between the SCO Member States. At the moment, all member states have confirmed their participation in the SCO Heads of State Council meeting. As for the concrete format, be it online or offline, there are too many unknowns due to the pandemic to make a prediction. I am sure that in any case, the meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council will become a milestone in SCO history."
— It is time to develop substantial cooperation between the SCO and ASEAN.
Zhang Ming: "The SCO and ASEAN political and moral values, just like their agendas, are similar to a large extent. It is no accident that the association was one of the first international organisations that built relations with the SCO: the memorandum between the two organisations' secretariats was signed in April 2005. I see vast possibilities for substantial and mutually beneficial cooperation in many areas. They include regional security; combatting new challenges and threats; investment, economic, scientific and technical cooperation; man-made and natural disaster relief efforts; the exchange of experience in ensuring ethnic and religious harmony; and many others. The attempts to impose a confrontational mentality in the Asia-Pacific region and certain forces' provocative actions in the region make it necessary to strengthening ties between the states and associations that share the same or similar approaches. I want to remind you that back in 2004, at the meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council in Tashkent, the founding states came up with the initiative to create a partner network of multilateral associations in the Asia-Pacific region."
— The SCO is paying close attention to the developments in Afghanistan.
Zhang Ming: "Many of the SCO member states are neighbours of Afghanistan. For many years, all members of the SCO family have attached importance to the Afghanistan issue. In August last year, we witnessed certain changes in the country's developments. The SCO member states reached a consensus that one of the most important factors of maintaining and improving security and stability in the SCO space is an expeditious settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. They confirmed their commitment to Afghanistan's development as an independent, neutral, unified, democratic and peaceful state free of terrorism, war and narcotics. They also emphasised the critical importance of the creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the representation of all ethnic, religious and political groups of Afghan society."