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Lancang-Mekong nations pledge unity, greater links

By ZHANG YUNBI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-08 06:58

Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) and Myanmar's Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Than Swe attend a joint news conference in Beijing on Thursday after the eighth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting. [Photo by WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY]

Ministers agree on priority areas for collaboration to boost growth, security

China and its five Southeast Asian neighbors along the Lancang-Mekong River have agreed that, facing an unstable and uncertain world, "there is a greater need to boost unity and solidarity and to advance regional peace and stability".

Foreign Minister Wang Yi unveiled the new consensus on Thursday after he co-chaired the eighth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Beijing with Myanmar's Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Than Swe.

The LMC mechanism was launched in 2016 by the six Lancang-Mekong countries — China, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The countries agreed on Thursday to press ahead with joint efforts in the priority areas of building a closer community for a shared future and a greater economic development belt, and shaping a safer environment for development, digitalization, culture and inclusiveness.

The six countries "will comprehensively enhance infrastructure connectivity, expand trade and investment, and improve the protection of industrial and supply chains", Wang said.

Wang announced that China will promote the launch of a special loan for LMC joint development with the aim of "facilitating the synergized development of the six countries".

In addition, China will further advance the construction of cross-border special economic zones, hold a forum for young entrepreneurs from Lancang-Mekong Cooperation countries, and jointly build piloting zones for agricultural modernization.

On ramping up the joint fight against nontraditional security threats, the six nations will resolutely combat cross-border crime, especially telecommunication fraud, and eradicate problems that jeopardize public safety, social development and security.

Officials said Thursday's meeting took place not only to reach a series of consensuses, but also to prepare for the next LMC Leaders' Meeting.

The theme of the meeting this year was moving toward modernization together and cultivating new advantages for subregional development.

Observers said that as unity and progress in the region and the rest of the world face challenges, the six countries have the capability to make greater strides toward modernization and achieve better development in their respective nations, thus injecting new impetus into the growth of the region and the world.

Wang told reporters that the six countries agreed to remain committed to the region's economic integration and refrain from forming "exclusive, small circles".

U Than Swe, the Myanmar deputy prime minister, said, "We have been working together in building a community of shared future for peace, prosperity and sustainable development in LMC countries."

He praised "the family spirit in each and every quarter of the LMC working mechanism to generate tangible results in terms of quantity and quality".

Xu Liping, a senior researcher of Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the LMC mechanism has "made progress every day, achieved results every month and reached a higher level every year".

"Looking ahead, it is necessary to give full play to the leading role of efforts at the political level, act with a development-oriented approach, and step up nontraditional security cooperation, in order to take LMC cooperation to a new level," he said.

The past seven years have witnessed the doubling of the annual total trade volume between China and the Mekong countries. The trade figure was $416.7 billion last year, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The LMC Special Fund has supported hundreds of livelihood cooperation projects, including the LMC Bumper Harvest projects, the Lancang-Mekong Sweet Spring project, and the Green Lancang-Mekong Initiative.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi also outlined the goal for the six nations to jointly make the region an example for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, a pacesetter in implementing the Global Development Initiative, a pioneer in implementing the Global Security Initiative and a front-runner in implementing the Global Civilization Initiative.


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