The second summit meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) was held in St Petersburg in June. During the meeting, the presidents of the six member nations – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – adopted a charter that formally constituted the SCO as an international organisation with a secretariat and agreed to set up a regional anti-terrorism agency to co-ordinate actions by the member countries against terrorism.
President Jiang Zemin went to St Petersburg with a high-powered delegation including Defence Minister Chi Haotian, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng, indicating the importance China attached to the meeting, South China Morning Post said.
The SCO was set up on a Chinese initiative in 1996 to draw Russia away from the US and secure co-operation from central Asia against Xinjiang separatists. However, scholars in Beijing thought that the SCO was losing momentum as Russia preferred to strengthen relations with the US and Nato. Just before the meeting, Russia’s President Putin gave an interview to People’s Daily in which he said Russia’s friendship with the West did not threaten its partnership with China and that relations with the mainland were still a major priority for the country. should take five years.