|Premier Li Keqiang Attends the Third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting|
On the morning of 24 August, Premier Li Keqiang attended the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting via video link at the Great Hall of the People. The meeting was co-chaired by Premier Li and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos. Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen of Cambodia, President U Win Myint of Myanmar, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Viet Nam also attended the meeting.
Li said that the launch of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) has been motivated by a river. Drinking water from the same river, we, the LMC countries are close as one family. President Xi Jinping recently called for making global governance more inclusive, multilateral frameworks more effective and regional cooperation more active. China commends the efforts made by the other LMC member states in enhancing regional cooperation.
Li highlighted that over the past four years, the LMC has grown rapidly and entered a period of all-round development. It has become a new fountain of strength for regional development and delivered real benefits to people of our countries. We have brought the cooperation mechanisms on water resources onto a fast track; We have strengthened economic cooperation and trade ties, which gave a strong boost to our economic growth and we have put people first in the LMC and increased their well-being. In the first half of this year, trade between China and the Mekong countries registered positive growth, bucking the trend of global slowdown. This speaks volumes about the great potential of cooperation between the two sides. Faced with COVID-19 since early this year, we have pulled together and supported each other in combating the virus and reviving regional growth.
Li made a six-point proposal on strengthening Lancang-Mekong cooperation:
— Taking cooperation in water resources to a new high. China is ready to provide more help to the best of its ability for the Mekong countries to make better use of water resources. Starting from this year, China will share Lancang River’s hydrological data for the whole year with the Mekong countries. China will work with the Mekong countries to establish a Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Information Sharing Platform to help us better tackle natural disasters such as floods and droughts. We need to hold the Ministerial Meeting of Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation and the Water Resources Cooperation Forum on a regular basis and deliver the cooperation projects on dam safety and flood early warning to enhance our capacity for integrated river basin management and water resources management.
— Expanding trade ties and connectivity cooperation. A synergy needs to be forged between the LMC and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to make trade routes more convenient. This will help optimize the allocation of resources, keep industrial and supply chains stable, and spur coordinated development. We also need to work toward signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement within this year to raise regional economic integration to a higher level. We need to ensure the success of the China-Laos and the China-Thailand railways, deepen financial cooperation, and build a network of “fast tracks” and “green lanes” across the region to facilitate the flow of people and goods.
— Deepening cooperation on sustainable development. We need to implement the Three-Year Action Plan on Agricultural Cooperation (2020-2022) at a faster pace and ensure the success of the LMC Bumper Harvest projects. China welcomes more quality agro-products, livestock and by-products from Mekong countries. We also need to step up cooperation to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity.
— Upgrading cooperation on public health. China will set up a special fund for public health under the framework of the LMC Special Fund, and continue to provide material and technical support to Mekong countries to the best of our ability. Once developed and deployed in China, COVID-19 vaccines will be provided to Mekong countries on a priority basis. We need to carry out information sharing and joint responses in major public health emergencies and support the World Health Organization (WHO) in better playing its role.
— Strengthening cooperation on people’s livelihood. China will work with Mekong countries to jointly implement projects on disaster prevention and mitigation as well as sanitation and health in rural areas to benefit more people and communities. We must work together to promote the integrated development of underdeveloped communities and revitalize tourism.
— Upholding the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. We will strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between various cooperation frameworks and facilitate the LMC’s interaction and cooperation with other sub-regional mechanisms. We will actively explore cooperation with Japan, the ROK, the EU and other third parties. China supports ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation. By promoting Lancang-Mekong cooperation, we hope to contribute to ASEAN’s community building and deepen the China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
Li noted that China has achieved significant progress in both COVID-19 response and socio-economic development and China’s development will create even more cooperation opportunities for Mekong countries and the rest of the world. We look forward to working with the Mekong countries to deepen and expand Lancang-Mekong cooperation, and provide stronger impetus for the development and prosperity in our sub-region and beyond.
The other LMC leaders spoke highly of the fruitful outcomes of the LMC and fully endorsed Li’s proposal on strengthening cooperation within the mechanism. They noted that the LMC has played an important role in promoting economic and social development in the region, improving people’s livelihood, consolidating peace and security, and enhancing mutual understanding and trust. The other LMC countries fully recognized the progress in water resources cooperation and expressed readiness to work with China to deepen cooperation on the LMC economic development belt, develop synergy with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and enhance connectivity. They expressed appreciation for China’s commitment to make its COVID-19 vaccines, once successfully developed, a global public good and to enhance the vaccines’ accessibility in other developing countries. They also expressed the will to work with China to deepen cooperation on public health, step up cooperation on COVID-19 response and promote economic recovery and development. The participants affirmed their commitment to advance regional economic integration as well as trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and effectively uphold multilateralism.
Li and the other LMC leaders also attended the handover ceremony for Myanmar to take over as the next LMC co-chair.