China, Mekong nations agree on over 100 projects

China, Mekong nations agree on over 100 projects

The six leaders from LMC members China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam gathered in Phnom Penh for the summit to adopt a five-year plan of action for 2018-22 and the "Phnom Penh Declaration", a statement of LMC members' political will for cooperation. This year's event is co-organised by Cambodia and China.

At the meeting, PM Phuc and other leaders attended a ceremony handing over the MLC co-chairmanship to Laos, a joint press conference on the meeting's outcomes, and a photo exhibition on Mekong-Lancang achievements.

Po Sovinda, global relations analyst with the East China Normal University in Shanghai, said China, as an upstream country of the Mekong River, likely would use the LMC as a model of Beijing-led multilateral institutionalizations by proving that it would "not seek hegemony".

"The second LMC leaders' meeting will be another milestone in deepening political trust, fostering practical cooperation, and promoting comprehensive regional connectivity", he told Xinhua.

"Effective regional cooperation is urgently needed on the Mekong to ensure its sustainable development and management". He said strengthening the framework will bring more benefits to the region.

Communities in Cambodia are as reliant as any on the river.

"Po Sovinda added that China could face a backlash, however, if it mismanages the river by pursuing unilateral decisions, which run contrary to its "'peaceful development' rhetoric".

At more than 45,000 kilometers long, the Mekong is the biggest river in Southeast Asia - and the most controversial.

"With the exception of the LMC being a multilateral initiative, China's approach is a continuation of its economic expansion and market dominance in mainland Southeast Asia", Eyler said.

Prayut is expected to pursue talks on the upcoming Thailand-Cambodia railway line, a part of Singapore-Kunming rail link and ultimately the Eastern Economic Corridor.

China has built huge hydropower dams in the upper reaches of the river, causing some concerns among downstream countries and environmentalists.

That the upstream dams are in China has allowed "water diplomacy" to emerge. Vietnam asked China to release water and when China agreed, called the move a "gesture of goodwill". The largest foreign financier and investor in Laos, China has voiced support for Myanmar in its internationally-condemned treatment of Rohingya.

Co-chaired by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, the two-day meeting sought to put the spotlight on the importance of the socio-economic development of the region, particularly as it relates to enhancing the well-being of the people, narrowing the development gap between countries, supporting Asean and its initiatives and advancing South-South Cooperation to further contribute to the implementation of the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

When asked if the two schemes overlap or compete politically and economically, Sok Siphana, advisor to the Cambodian government who is in charge of both schemes, said they instead complement each other.

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha met with other leaders of nations along the Mekong River for the second Mekong-Lancang Cooperation summit, and adopted a five-year plan of action on sub-regional cooperation.

"For Cambodia's part, we seek investment on connectivity, irrigation infrastructure, and projects toward lower energy costs that could attract more investments and create more jobs".

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