Intelligence on terrorist and separatist networks will be shared China and its five main Central Asian neighbours formally launched the secretariat office of a regional grouping yesterday, with the goal of promoting peace and prosperity in the region. 'We will pursue a policy of non-alignment,' said Zhang Deguang, the first secretary-general of the organisation formally known as the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. It was founded by China and Russia in Shanghai in 2001 but now also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Foreign ministers of the six states gathered in Beijing yesterday to mark the occasion and to appoint Mr Zhang, the former Chinese ambassador to Russia, as the group's first chief administrator. Besides sharing intelligence on terrorist and separatist networks, the six states plan to use the Beijing office to boost regional economies and trade. But the organisation will have a budget of just US$3.5 million this year, of which China and Russia will each contribute 24 per cent of the total. Improving Central Asia's road networks would be a major priority as a precursor to improving trade ties, Mr Zhang said. 'The future goal is to realise an increased flow of merchandise, capital, services and technology in the region by 2020,' he added. 'I can say for sure that the group will never develop into an exclusive political and military alliance.' Trade between China and the other member states still remained small compared to the mainland's US$840 billion relationship with the rest of the world. While trade between China and Russia was valued at about US$15 billion last year, trade between China and the other four Central Asian nations amounted to less than US$3 billion. 'The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation will help foster the development of Central Asia,' said Sun Zhuanchi, a Central Asia expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 'China needs oil and natural resources, while these states need Chinese goods.' But it was unlikely the group would offer China privileged access to oil reserves, he said.