Chinese tai chi and Indian yoga met at a news conference on Shanghai Cooperation Organization Cultural and Sports Events for 2020-21 in Beijing on Sunday. The two performances, by students from Beijing Sport University and the Indian embassy in China respectively, showcased the vitality of two ancient civilizations and their charm.
Based on the principle of the Shanghai spirit, which incorporates values such as trust and mutual benefit, equality, consultations on an equal footing, respect for the diversity of cultures and the desire for joint development, the SCO was established in 2001 as a permanent intergovernmental organization.
In order to "develop cultural and sports exchanges between our countries, and promote dialogue between our peoples", according to SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, the organization presents a series of cultural and sports events.
The 5th SCO Kunming Marathon will be held on Dec 6 in an online format, SCO announced at the news conference. As a brand event of this series, the marathon has been held annually since 2016, attracting more than 80,000 participants. It was recognized as a silver-licensed event by the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2020.
Due to the current pandemic control measures, the SCO secretariat and the government of Yunnan province decided to hold the 5th race online. Marathons will be held in SCO member countries themselves, and participants can upload videos and photos of their participation to an application available in Chinese, Russian and English languages, so that they can share the healthy lifestyle with each other.
"It increases engagement among people from SCO member countries, enhances the cohesion within the SCO and reflects the firm belief of the SCO member countries of keeping watch and helping each other, overcoming difficulties together and uniting to overcome the pandemic," says Lin Songtian, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
Besides the marathon, an SCO children's online art exhibition was held in June. Children from 15 SCO member countries created more than 500 paintings about the fight against the pandemic in their eyes, and some of the works are still on display.
"You can see with your own eyes that the participants of this exhibition, through their works, not only revealed the theme of the fight against COVID-19, but also reflected the ideas of peace, friendship, mutual support and aspirations for development. All these values form the basis of the Shanghai spirit," says Norov.
"It is gratifying that the young generation of SCO countries shares the principles of mutual support from an early age and calls for solidarity. Today, all countries of the world are interconnected with each other and the key to defeating the virus that knows no borders is solidarity and cooperation," he adds.
He also mentions that next year marks the 20th anniversary of SCO, and activities like art exhibitions, film festivals, student football tournament and boxing tournament will be held in member countries.
In 2017, India became a member of the SCO. Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri highlights the importance of yoga in enhancing health and promoting global communication.
"It embodies unity of mind, body and soul and shows a holistic approach to health and well-being. Practicing yoga during the time of the pandemic has been shown to be particularly useful as it strengthens the respiratory system and helps relieve stress.
"Born in ancient Indian tradition, yoga has now become universal. It is a part of India's contribution to strengthening cultural cooperation among SCO countries and a contribution to greater understanding of each other's cultural heritage," says Misri.
Cui Li, vice-chairman of the Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the SCO, commended the mutual support SCO countries offered to each other during the pandemic.
"At China's most difficult moment fighting against the pandemic, civil organizations from SCO countries extended a helping hand and provided valuable support, which we are deeply grateful for. When the pandemic hit other countries, China expressed great concern and deep sympathy, actively took actions and offered help," says Cui.
She hopes to enhance nongovernmental exchanges and cooperation in the future.
"GNFCC stands ready to work with all sides to further exploit our potential, build a new platform for nongovernmental exchanges, facilitate the implementation of cooperative projects, and bring tangible benefits to the people of all countries."