"We must unite to oppose external meddling, steadfastly support one another, and address each other's interests... ensuring that we firmly grasp the future and destiny of our nations and regional peace and development in our own hands," Xi said during a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as reported by state broadcaster CCTV.

The SCO, spanning a vast area from Moscow to Beijing, includes approximately half of the world's population and welcomed its 10th member, Belarus, on Thursday. Other permanent members are this year's host Kazakhstan, India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and since last year, Iran.

"The world is once again at a pivotal juncture," CCTV quoted Xi as saying. "It is crucial for the world that the SCO aligns with the right side of history and upholds fairness and justice."

On Wednesday, Xi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed that the Shanghai alliance was enhancing its role as "one of the key pillars of a just multipolar world order." The SCO focuses on strengthening economic relations among member countries and developing major projects to connect China and Europe through Central Asia.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine—which China has not condemned—has heightened major powers' interest in the region. Moscow aims to preserve its traditional influence, while Beijing strengthens its ties through its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, and the West also competes for influence.

According to CCTV, Xi told leaders on Thursday: "We must protect the right to development, embrace inclusivity, jointly advance technological innovation, ensure the stability and continuity of industrial and supply chains, stimulate the intrinsic strength of the regional economy, and promote the achievement of shared development objectives."