BEIJING — The second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) forum leaders’ meeting will kick off in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Jan 10, with the aim of building a community of shared future of peace and prosperity.
Premier Li Keqiang will attend the meeting under the theme “Our River of Peace and Sustainable Development.” The river refers to the Lancang-Mekong River.
Originating from the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in Southwest China, the river is called the Lancang River in China and the Mekong River as it flows through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the sea.
More than 326 million people live along the 4,880-km-long waterway, which flows through an area of more than 795,000 square km.
Like the Lancang-Mekong River, the common mission and ideals that bind the six countries together have forged a common destiny for them.
CONSENSUS TO BUILD A COMMUNITY OF SHARED FUTURE
“Sanya Declaration determined the goal of building a community of shared future of peace and prosperity, which was reaffirmed in the joint press communiqué of the third LMC foreign ministers’ meeting in December,” said Hu Zhengyue, vice president of China Public Diplomacy Association and former assistant minister of foreign affairs.
Sanya Declaration was issued after the first LMC leaders’ meeting held in Sanya city in South China’s Hainan province in March 2016.
China has proposed building a community with a shared future for mankind and the LMC cooperation mechanism can be a “good starting point” and a “demonstration area” to implement the concept, Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of China Institute of International Studies, told Xinhua.
The six countries — China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — are closely inter-connected because they are nourished by the same river, Ruan said, adding that they have very similar development concepts and a lot in common in inter-connectivity, water resources, agriculture and technology.
The six nations have very deep traditional friendship with innate advantages, solid basis, strong willingness and great potential for cooperation, and have a common goal to build a community of shared future of peace and prosperity, said Huang Xilian, deputy director-general of the Department of Asian Affairs under the Foreign Ministry.
“This is why from the very start the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism has gained great importance attached by and extensive support from the governments and peoples of the six countries,” Huang said.
LANCANG-MEKONG EFFICIENCY WITH BRIGHT PROSPECTS
The LMC has achieved fruitful results since its inception in 2016. It has demonstrated a Lancang-Mekong speed and efficiency.
On mechanism construction, the LMC has formed dialogue mechanisms at different levels. It so far has held one leaders’ meeting, three foreign ministers’ meetings and five senior officials’ meetings, Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told a recent news briefing.
On regional cooperation projects, most of the 45 early harvest projects identified at the first LMC leaders’ meeting and the 13 initiatives put forward by China at the second LMC foreign ministers’ meeting have been completed or made substantive progress, reads the joint press communiqué of the third LMC foreign ministers’ meeting held in Dali city of Southwest China’s Yunnan province on Dec 15.
“The reason why the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism has enjoyed rapid development is that the mechanism accords with the six nations’ common willingness to enhance all-win cooperation and the trend of regional economic integration,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “It has showed strong vitality since it was born.”
In the first 10 months of 2017, trade between China and the other five countries in the Lancang-Mekong area reached $17.76 billion, up 15.6 percent from the same period of the previous year, and is expected to exceed $20 billion in the whole of 2017, showed the latest Chinese official statistics.
From January to October 2017, China’s investment in the five countries reached $2.68 billion, up 22.3 percent from the previous year.
Guo Yanjun, director of the Institute of Asian Studies of China Foreign Affairs University, is optimistic about the LMC’s prospects. “The cooperation initiatives and projects have truly reflected the demands of the six countries and they should further such pragmatic cooperation in the future,” he told Xinhua.
However, Guo warned that the cooperation mechanism should not be advanced with a too fast speed as there is development disparity among the countries.
The leaders at the second LMC leaders’ meeting are expected to adopt several documents on the future development of the sub-regional cooperation.
“We expect that the upcoming LMC leaders’ meeting will achieve fruitful results, chart the course for future development of the mechanism and inject impetus, so as to benefit the peoples in the region,” said Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo in a recent signed article.
CHINA-CAMBODIA TIES IMPORTANT FOR LMC
On Jan 11, Premier Li will also pay a visit to Cambodia. It will be his first overseas visit in 2018.
“Premier Li’s choice of Cambodia as the destination of his first overseas visit in 2018 shows that China attaches great importance to China-Cambodia relations,” Hu Qianwen, former Chinese ambassador to Cambodia, told Xinhua.
During his stay in Cambodia, Li will meet with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, and hold talks with his counterpart, Hun Sen. The two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern, so as to plan for future development of China-Cambodia relations.
The two sides are expected to reach consensus and sign cooperation documents on infrastructure, science, agriculture, tourism and other fields.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-Cambodia diplomatic relations. “China-Cambodia relationship has developed in a very steady and rapid way and is becoming better and better with very solid strategic mutual trust between the two countries,” Ruan said.
“China-Cambodia cooperation is an example of international cooperation that features equality and mutual benefit between a major country and a relatively small country,” he said.
Ruan said Cambodia is also very interested in the Belt and Road Initiative, which was proposed by China to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa based on ancient land and maritime trade routes.
“Cambodia has seen that cooperation with China is key to Cambodia’s future development, which can help improve its economy and enhance its role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Indo-China Peninsula,” he said, “China-Cambodia relationship is in essence a community of shared future.”
The relationship between China and Cambodia has its particularity, as it is also that between China and an ASEAN member, Hu Zhengyao said, “The sound development of China-Cambodia relations is conducive to China-ASEAN cooperation and the LMC.”
“With a very solid foundation for future development of bilateral ties, it is expected that China and Cambodia can strengthen coordination and cooperation within the framework of ASEAN,” Guo said.