By Nguon Sovan, Mao Pengfei
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) — The forthcoming second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders’ meeting is crucial to deepen cooperation among the six LMC countries toward building a community of shared future for the sub-region, scholars said.
Initiated by China in 2015, LMC consists of six countries, namely China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are going to co-chair the biennial meeting on Jan. 10 in Phnom Penh, which will also bring together the leaders of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Chheang Vannarith, vice-chairman of the board of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, said the meeting would reflect the leaders’ joint effort and commitment to build a community of shared future in the sub-region.
“The second LMC leaders’ meeting will be another milestone in deepening political trust, fostering practical cooperation, and promoting comprehensive regional connectivity,” he told Xinhua.
He said the vision of realizing a community of shared future and common development clearly illustrated the leaders’ strong political will in advancing win-win cooperation for the six countries.
“This vision comes from the sincere political will from China,” he said. “I think, for other members of Lancang-Mekong, we are very supportive of it because we understand the sincerity and honesty of China.”
The LMC focuses on three pillars, namely political-security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation, and five priority areas of cooperation, namely connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources management and agriculture, and poverty reduction.
Sok Siphana, an advisor to the Cambodian government, said that at the upcoming meeting, the leaders would adopt a Phnom Penh Declaration and a five-year action plan for the six countries to continue their cooperation.
“The leaders will adopt over a hundred projects and…the leaders will announce the Special Fund — the 300 million (U.S.) dollars Special Fund — is now operational,” he said during the public forum.
The LMC Special Fund, initiated by China during the first LMC leaders’ meeting in Sanya city of southern China’s Hainan province in March 2016, aims to support the small and medium-sized cooperation projects put forward by the six Lancang-Mekong countries.
According to Sok Siphana, the LMC would contribute to supporting the ASEAN Community Building and to narrowing development gaps among ASEAN member states.
“For ASEAN, we have the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity (2025), we have also the three pillars, which are the same as the Mekong-Lancang, so any activities that the MLC do will support the implementation of the ASEAN objectives,” he said.
“So whatever we do under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation framework will support ASEAN and help reduce development gaps.”
Song Junying, deputy secretary general of Global Center for Mekong Studies under the China Institute of International Studies, said the forthcoming meeting would be a good opportunity for the leaders to express their joint determination to create a community of shared future and common development.
“This idea had been proposed by the Chinese government, but now it has been widely accepted and said by all the member countries,” he said.
“I think it is a long-term goal, we cannot achieve it overnight, but if we have no ambitious goal, we cannot go very far. With this goal in mind, we are very clear what we want to do in the future.”
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.