Progress and Future Development of Lancang-mekong Cooperation

China International Studies (English) - - Contents - Liu Qing

The Lancang-mekong Cooperation has become an important model for China and neighboring countries seeking to build a community of shared future with its remarkable achievements. Based on the solid foundation, the LMC needs to overcome several challenges to ensure strong and sustainable momentum.

Situated along the Lancang-mekong River are China and the five ASEAN countries of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. They have much in common and are keen for close cooperation, which led to the launch of the Lancang-mekong Cooperation (LMC) mechanism in 2016. Over the past two years, the LMC has increasingly expanded its influence in sub-regional cooperation, becoming an important model for China and neighboring countries seeking to build a community of shared future.

Progress Made in the LMC

The LMC is one of the most rapidly responsive and effective mechanism in China’s sub-regional cooperation with its neighbors. On March 23, 2016, with the aim of implementing the LMC initiative proposed at the 17th ASEAN-CHINA summit, China and the five countries of the Mekong region held the first summit in China’s Hainan province. The leaders jointly issued the Sanya Declaration, formally establishing the LMC mechanism. On January 10, 2018, upon the LMC’S second anniversary, the six countries’ leaders held their second summit. During the meeting, the leaders comprehensively summed up their cooperation experience, and conducted the overall planning for future development

of the mechanism. The meeting signals a clear institutional shift of the LMC from cultivation to growth. For the past two years, China and the Mekong countries have worked like bulldozers, pushing forward a downto-earth style of cooperation. They have made remarkable achievements in areas of mechanism building, project promotion and financial cooperation, forming a model which is efficient, pragmatic, project-based, and people’s livelihood-oriented. A culture of equality, sincerity, and amity has emerged within the LMC.

Formation of a comprehensive cooperation framework

Since its onset, the LMC has been established under a “3+5” framework. The “3” refers to three pillars of political and security issues, economic and sustainable development, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and the “5” represents the five key priority areas of connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources, and agriculture and poverty reduction. Over the past two years, with joint consultation and efforts of the six parties, the LMC has formed a multilevel and expansive cooperation framework. Within the mechanism are four levels of established cooperative sub-mechanisms, namely leaders’ meetings, foreign ministers’ meetings, senior officials’ meetings, and joint working group meetings on priority areas. This structure has facilitated the formation of a cooperation pattern that features leadership guidance, allround coverage and broad participation. Based on the “3+5” framework, the LMC actively expands into new cooperation fields and upgrades “3+5” into “3+5+X.” All participating countries have established their respective cooperation secretariats or coordination agencies, which serves to reinforce horizontal connection across departments and coordination among member countries. At the same time, three auxiliary agencies have been established, including the Water Resources Cooperation Center, the Environmental Cooperation Center and the Global Mekong River Studies Center. The three centers have been in operation, playing a leading role in their respective fields.

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