|Ushering in Another "Golden Five Year" of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation|
On June 8, 2021, the sixth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in Chongqing. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin co-chaired the meeting attended by Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, Cambodian Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son. Themed with "Defeat Pandemic in Solidarity and Deliver Post-COVID Development with Joint Efforts", the meeting reviewed the progress of the LMC, concluded experience over the past five years, and charted the course for major cooperation in the next stage.
Wang Yi said, the Lancang and Mekong connect all six countries. The launch of the LMC has been motivated by a river, which brings all the countries together. Over five years, the LMC has set sail and marched forward. We adhere to mutual benefit, and promote fruitful practical cooperation; we take into account the development needs of the six countries and continuously strengthen internal drivers for growth; we uphold openness and inclusiveness, and advance sub-regional peace and development. The LMC has become one of the most dynamic emerging cooperation mechanisms at the sub-region level.
Wang Yi said, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the six Lancang-Mekong countries have earnestly implemented the consensus reached at the third Leaders' Meeting and the fifth Foreign Ministers' Meeting, practiced the Five-Year Plan of Action on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, and vigorously carried out cooperation to fight the pandemic, jointly boosting economic recovery, deepening people-to-people exchanges, and maintaining high-level development of the LMC. We have set an example for anti-COVID cooperation, broken new grounds for economic growth, upgraded cooperation in water resources, delivered new progress of people's wellbeing, and constructed a new architecture for all-round cooperation.
Wang Yi expressed, the LMC is the new-type sub-regional framework initiated by riparian countries with extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Over five years, it has developed rapidly with remarkable outcomes, which can be attributable to four experiences:
First, implement the principle of good-neighborly and friendly cooperation. We uphold the equality of all countries, big or small, strong or weak, promote cooperation through consultations and discussions, increase friendly exchanges, fully accommodate each other's comfort level, attach no political strings, and support each other in pursuing development paths suited to our respective national conditions.
Second, follow the purpose of putting development first. We concentrate on development and cooperation, and establish the "development-first, efficiency-oriented, and project-based" LMC mode, demonstrating the great efficiency with progress made every day and results delivered every year, and creating the coordinated and interconnected development.
Third, stay committed to the principle of win-win cooperation. We uphold openness and inclusiveness, and foster greater synergy and coordinated development efforts between the LMC and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Programme and the Mekong River Commission, boosting ASEAN community construction and contributing "LMC Plan" and "LMC Wisdom" for improving regional governance.
Fourth, stay true to the original aspiration of putting people first. We always put people first, and treat their concerns and worries as our own. We promote the cooperation in urgent fields such as education, health, women's welfare, and poverty reduction, and foster a Lancang-Mekong culture of equality, sincerity, mutual assistance and affinity, enabling more people to benefit from the LMC.
Wang Yi emphasized, standing at the new historical point, China will firmly follow President Xi Jinping's diplomatic concept of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness for dealing with our neighbors, share development opportunities and jointly tackle challenges with Mekong countries, striving to build a community with a shared future of Lancang-Mekong Countries. It is suggested focus on the following six aspects:
First, deepen anti-pandemic cooperation. China will continue to provide vaccines and medical supplies to Mekong countries. We should make full use of the LMC Special Fund for Public Health to support the construction of biosafety labs, epidemic monitoring, and prevention and control of cross-border infectious diseases, and strengthen cooperation in traditional medicine.
Second, jointly seek recovery after COVID-19. We should align the LMC with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, and strengthen cooperation in customs clearance facilitation, production capacity and connectivity, digital economy, and technological innovation. We should leverage the Lancang-Mekong Agricultural Cooperation Center, host the Seminar on Lancang-Mekong Tourism Cities Cooperation Alliance, and Lancang-Mekong Mayors' Culture and Tourism Forum. We should assist the six member countries in recovering economy and improving livelihood through the LMC Special Fund.
Third, expand water resources cooperation. We should host the Second Ministerial Meeting on Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation, and the Second Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Forum, conduct joint studies of flood and drought disaster mitigation, water information monitoring, and changes of the hydrologic conditions, further improving the information sharing platforms. We should establish cooperation in environmental policy dialogue and biodiversity protection, and combat illegal logging and wildlife trafficking.
Fourth, promote pragmatic cooperation at local levels. We should host the local government cooperation forum of LMC member countries, and strengthen cooperation in border trade, cross-border e-commerce, and border economic parks.
Fifth, strengthen people-to-people ties. China stands ready to share poverty alleviation experience with all countries, and support the assistance for rural women, diversified rural economy, and border development. We should strengthen cooperation in such fields as human resource, cultural tourism, media, sports, women and children.
Sixth, improve cooperation mechanisms. We should formulate the Five-Year Plan of Action on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (2023-2027). China will support Mekong countries to implement more cooperation projects through the LMC Special Fund.
Wang Yi said, looking ahead, China will work with other five countries to adhere to the Lancang-Mekong spirit of "Shared River, Shared Future", deepen good-neighborliness and pragmatic cooperation, build a Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt, and continuously build an LMC community with a shared future. In addition, we will jointly boost post-pandemic economic recovery and regional prosperity of all countries along the Lancang-Mekong River, play an active role in forging a higher-level China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and make greater contribution to South-South cooperation and implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ushering another "Golden Five Year" of the LMC.
All participating foreign ministers speak highly of the speech of Wang Yi, fully confirm fruitful results of the LMC over the past five years, and recognize the vital role of the mechanism in promoting economic growth, improving livelihood, protecting environment, closing cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and deepening water resources cooperation and regional integration. They are satisfied with the progress of the project cooperation within the LMC framework, and think the deepening LMC helps better address challenges. They said, the birth and development of the LMC accord with the needs of all countries in the region. They appreciate China's support for and efforts to the LMC, especially the sincere assistance for the Lancang-Mekong countries in virus fighting and economic recovery, and expect China's bigger role in advancing the LMC.
The foreign ministers expressed, their countries are willing to maintain the growing momentum of the LMC, synergize development strategies, strengthen infrastructure construction and connectivity, leverage respective strengths, and explore production capacity cooperation in various forms. Meanwhile, they will deepen the cooperation in fields such as education, youth, and local governments, and strengthen complementarity with other regional and sub-regional mechanisms, delivering mutual benefit and shared prosperity.
The meeting passed the consensus-based documents such as the Joint Statement on Enhancing Sustainable Development Cooperation of the Lancang-Mekong Countries, the Initiative on Deepening Cooperation among Local Governments of Lancang-Mekong Countries, the Joint Statement on Deepening Cooperation on Traditional Medicine Within the Framework of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, and distributed research reports and materials such as the Progress Report of the Year 2020 on Implementing the Five-Year Plan of Action on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, the Joint Research Report on Promoting Synergy between Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, the List of the Projects Supported by LMC Special Fund of 2021, and the Hotline Information Platform of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. The Chinese side also distributed the lists such as the List of Letter of Intent between Chinese Provinces and Cities and Local Governments of Mekong Countries, and the Initial Measures of the Chinese Government on Promoting Synergy between Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
Prior to the meeting, Wang Yi and foreign ministers of the five countries visited the Exhibition of LMC Achievements, and attended the launch ceremony of the new version of the China Secretariat for LMC.