First Mekong-Lancang Cooperation meeting, in China, hears address from Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh on matters facing Mekong countries.
Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) should promote its important role in boosting efforts by member states to scientifically and sustainably manage and use the water resources of the Mekong River, known as the Lancang in China, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh.
In a speech delivered at the first MLC leaders’ meeting, in Sanya city in China’s Hainan province on March 23, Mr. Minh hailed the significance of the meeting as it marked the birth of a new cooperation mechanism between Mekong-Lancang countries and the first time all six countries along the Mekong River have met to discuss joint efforts for sustainable development in the Mekong sub-region.
He noted that the Mekong sub-region is currently facing numerous challenges in development and security, particularly those relating to environmental degradation, water resources, and climate change.
Vietnam welcomes and appreciates China’s recent decision to increase the release of water in the upper Mekong River to address the severe drought and salt intrusion in the lower part of the river, Mr. Minh said, adding that the decision is a good start for the MLC mechanism.
He stressed that Vietnam supports the principles and long-term collaboration specified in the Sanya Declaration, with the MLC to be built on the principle of consensus, equality, mutual benefit, and respect for the UN Charter and international law.
With these principles and orientations, he believes, the MLC will help reinforce the good neighborly relations among the six countries and help them to implement the UN’s sustainable development goals to 2030 and contribute to deepening the ASEAN-China strategic partnership.
Mr. Minh also affirmed that a complete and connected infrastructure system is essential for the development of trade, investment and tourism in the Mekong sub-region.
The MLC will contribute to boosting economic connectivity in the sub-region, through development cooperation and infrastructure linkage, he said.
As economic connectivity is a priority for the ASEAN Community and the ASEAN-China strategic partnership, Mr. Minh said that Vietnam backs the strengthening of production collaboration among Mekong-Lancang countries to increase the competitiveness of each member and boost production chains linking economies in the sub-region and linking them with their partners.
At the same time, he noted that cooperation in water resources is of leading importance among the five priorities of the MLC. Vietnam has agreed to work with China in developing a joint project to establish a center on Mekong-Lancang water resources cooperation, adding that Vietnam is also ready to make financial contributions to the establishment and operations of the center.
Agriculture plays a crucial role in the stability and sustainable development of Mekong-Lancang nations, he added.
Vietnam is willing to coordinate with other countries through stepping up the application of new technologies, increasing productivity, and forming agricultural value chains in the sub-region, towards having a sustainable agriculture sector that is competitive and adaptable to climate change, thus ensuring harmony between food security and water resources security.
Trade, investment and tourism cooperation and connectivity is also a driving force for economic growth of countries in the sub-region, Mr. Minh confirmed.
Therefore, Vietnam will intensify collaboration with other Mekong-Lancang nations to facilitate the cross-border movement of trade, investment, and tourism through simplifying and harmonizing administrative procedures.
He concluded his speech by saying that the MLC is an open cooperation mechanism that can supplement current collaboration frameworks in the Mekong sub-region and create more added value for cooperation among the six Mekong countries.
He underlined the need for the MLC to harmoniously coordinate with other cooperation mechanisms and frameworks, especially the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
The Mekong-Lancang countries are China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
- Pham Binh Minh