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Mekong, Chinese ministers’ meeting to push sub-regional ties

Foreign ministers from countries in the Mekong basin and China will gather in Vientiane this week to discuss regional cooperation with Laos and China co-chairing the meeting, which opens on Thursday.
The Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) body was established by the leaders of the five countries in the Mekong basin (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), and China as development partners in 2016.
The cooperation mechanism comprises the three pillars of political-security, economic development, and social-cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
The MLC’s priority areas are water resource management, agricultural development and poverty reduction, integration and connectivity, production capacity, and cross-border economic cooperation.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the meeting, the ministers will review the implementation of the agreements reached at the Second Summit of Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, the Fourth MLC Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the five-year Mekong-Lancang Action Plan for 2018-2022, which charts the course for Mekong-Lancang Cooperation into the next decade.
The ministers will discuss future cooperation on socio-economic development in the Mekong sub-region based on the three pillars and five priorities.
This week’s meeting of foreign ministers from the Mekong countries and China will also prepare for the upcoming Third MLC Summit, which Laos will host next month.
According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, which referred to a statement by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, China was the largest trading partner of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and the second-largest trading partner of Laos in 2017.
The trade volume between China and the Mekong countries that year reached US$220 billion, up 16 percent from 2016. China’s total investment in the five countries exceeded US$42 billion, with a growth rate of more than 20 percent in 2017.
The MLC mechanism has been focusing on sustainable development and pragmatic cooperation in the sub-region and serves as an important platform for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.
According to The Asean Post, the MLC had provided financial support for at least 132 projects in the Mekong sub-region as of 2018.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 18, 2020)

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