Lancang-Mekong cooperation explores pragmatic cooperation in water, connectivity, COVID-19 fight

, August 25, 2020

Well-known for being pragmatic and efficient, the four-year-old Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) rolled out a series of new cooperative measures at its third LMC leaders' meeting on Monday, as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the meeting and made several proposals in Beijing via video link.

As a new sub-regional cooperative mechanism jointly discussed, built and shared by the six Lancang-Mekong countries, the LMC has been project-based, development-first, down-to-earth and realistic since its birth over four years ago, and has been running on a fast track to bring real benefits to the people.

Water serves as the bond of the LMC, which originates from water and flourishes with water.

As a priority area of the LMC, cooperation on water resources has been bearing bountiful fruits over the past four years, with more good news coming from the third LMC leaders' meeting.

At the meeting, Li said that China will share the annual hydrological information of the Lancang River with Mekong countries starting from this year, to better address climate change as well as floods and droughts.

Li also said the legitimate rights and interests of Lancang-Mekong countries to rationally develop and utilize water resources should be fully respected, and all parties' interests and concerns should be accommodated, adding that China will join with other countries this year to build an information sharing platform of water resources cooperation.

Where there's a will there's a way. In addition to water cooperation, cooperation on land connectivity under the framework of the LMC mechanism also contributes to the economic growth of Lancang-Mekong countries.

From the China-Laos railway, the China-Thailand railway to the highways connecting China's southwest with Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and further with Thailand and Cambodia, when a road is built, a residential and business cluster emerges along the way.

At the meeting, Li proposed synergizing the LMC with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, which traverses western China and connects Southeast Asia with the Eurasian continent.

Greater synergy between the LMC and the New Trade Corridor will make trade routes more convenient and enable the leveraging of more resources from western and southwestern China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries, and thus channel more inputs to the Mekong countries, the premier said, adding that this will help optimize the allocation of resources, keep industrial and supply chains stable and spur coordinated development.

Against the grim backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which has been ravaging the world for more than half a year, the meeting also discussed coordinated responses to fight the virus, and the Chinese premier pledged to give priority to providing COVID-19 vaccines to Mekong countries once a vaccine is developed and put into use.

China will set up special funds to promote public health under the framework of the LMC Special Fund, and continue to provide anti-epidemic materials and technical support to Mekong countries, Li said.

No man is an island, entire of itself. Linked by rivers and mountains, the Lancang-Mekong countries are a de facto community with a shared future.

On the path of common development, no country should be left behind. The LMC with the concept of openness, tolerance and multilateralism is on its way to achieve mutual benefit and common prosperity.