Beijing: With India and Pakistan expected to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Thursday, China on Wednesday said it is a "major step forward" for both the South Asian countries to gain entry into the group and contribute to the region's prosperity and stability.
"This is a major step forward for India and Pakistan to obtain official SCO membership," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said.
"China supports India and Pakistan's accession to the SCO, and hopes that the entry of new members will contribute to the development of the SCO and regional prosperity and stability," she told PTI ahead of the SCO summit in the Uzbekistan capital Tashkent on Thursday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping who already arrived in Tashkent said the summit marks a new beginning for the group.
"China sees the 16th SCO Summit as a new starting point to enhance cooperation among members," Xi said as the six member group founded in 2001 is set to expand for the first time amid mixed feelings of optimism and skepticism about what impact India-Pakistan entry will have on the group considering their bitter rivalry.
SCO focussing mostly security related issues like terrorism in Central Asia is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members.
Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan has observer status. Last year's Ufa summit has formally adopted a resolution which started the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the SCO.
It is not yet clear when the process for India and Pakistan admission into the group will be completed. Both the countries have been asked to endorse all the documents of SCO since its founding in 2001.
Uzbekistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Anvar Nasirov has been quoted by Chinese state-run media earlier that that a Memorandum of Obligations by the Indian and Pakistani sides for obtaining SCO member state status will be signed during the Tashkent summit.
This is one of the important stages in the process of joining the organisation as a full member, he said.
"Observers are concerned about SCO expansion, especially the admission of India and Pakistan," an article in the state- run Global Times said earlier.
"The two nations, which are hostile over the issues of Kashmir and anti-terrorism, have long been locked into a state of military confrontation, and share conflicting views over the Afghanistan issue and other regional affairs," the article said.
"If Pakistan and India are admitted to the SCO at the Tashkent meeting, it will also help improve the ties between the two South Asian rivals, and thus contribute to peace and development in the subcontinent," an article in the state-run China Daily said....