On 21-22 May 2017, the SCO Secretariat in Beijing hosted international youth debates for students from the SCO countries. The debates were on the agenda of Kazakhstan's SCO Presidency (2016-2017).
Student activists from the SCO countries who are studying in Beijing discussed issues of concern to young people, such as the influence of television on morals, the advantages of paid and free university education, employment guarantees for graduates in SCO countries, and whether early marriages are a positive or a problem for a nation.
"Interesting and lively discussions were held on these and other issues. You have shown that you know a great deal about the SCO and can uphold your views and use the power of argument and fact to convince your counterparts. This is heartening and inspiring," said SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov.
"It is symbolic that the first youth debates, which were held on the 15th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 10th anniversary of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Between the Member States of the SCO, have confirmed the traditions of mutual trust, friendship and respect for the diversity of our countries' cultures and civilisations. But the most important thing is that our young people have demonstrated their desire to strengthen friendship and to work together to build a common future, which is strengthening our belief in the upcoming SCO generation," Rashid Alimov added.
Kazakhstan's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China Shakhrat Nuryshev pointed out young people's growing interest in the SCO's efforts to strengthen mutual trust, friendship and neighbourly relations between nations. He also praised the high standards of their education and their "desire to learn the skills of persuading and moulding the audience's opinion on the issues at hand."
"The SCO is a unique format where the member states can discuss and develop their development strategies in various spheres of cooperation. By taking part in these debates, young people not only learn more about SCO activities but also outline their part in the future development of their countries and the SCO," said Diana Akhmetzhanova, a fourth-year student at Beijing Foreign Studies University and head of the jury.
The winners of the first youth debates were Sang Yiyi and Shu Han from China, Mahmudzhon Khamraliyev and Anushevron Sattorov from Tajikistan, and Dana Utegenova from Kazakhstan. SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Kazakhstan's Ambassador to China Shakhrat Nuryshev awarded diplomas and certificates of merit to the debate winners and organisers.
During their meeting before the awards ceremony, Rashid Alimov and Shakhrat Nuryshev discussed the final preparations for the upcoming SCO summit in Astana.
The first youth debates were held in the form of public discussions and opinion exchanges on eight issues of concern to young people in the context of SCO priorities.
The debate participants were young people from SCO countries who are studying at Beijing University of International Business and Economics, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Tsinghua University, Yangzhou University, Renmin University of China and Central University of Finance and Economics.