Lancang – Mekong Cooperation: MRC welcomes the New Initiative for Regional Cooperation by six countries in the Mekong River Basin
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 31 March 2016 –The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has welcomed the First Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders’ Meeting as an important new initiative for regional cooperation. Leaders of China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam – the MRC’s four member countries and its official dialogue partners – met last week in Sanya, a city of China’s Hainan Island, for the first time to discuss regional cooperation for sustainable development of the basin along the Mekong River, which is called in China the Lancang River.
“As a regional intergovernmental organisation in the Lower Mekong River Basin, we welcome the initiative of the People’s Republic of China and the five Mekong countries to set up the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework for sustainable development of the greater region,” said MRC Secretariat’s CEO Pham Tuan Phan. “We recognise that the Summit was a historic moment to cement the future cooperation among the six basin countries and it would certainly bring benefits to the MRC’s goals.
During the historic meeting, the LMC Leaders agreed to strengthen regional dialogue and cooperation in the three key fields of political and security issues; economic and sustainable development; and social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and to commence its cooperation with five priority areas such as the connectivity of rivers, roads, and railways, cross-border economic cooperation, and the management of water resources. Furthermore, the leaders have stressed that “LMC shall follow the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, tally with the priority areas of ASEAN Community building and ASEAN – China cooperation, and complement and develop in synergy with existing sub-regional cooperation mechanisms.”
Earlier, at the First LMC Ministerial Meeting in November 2015, the Foreign Ministers of the six LMC countries formally endorsed the LMC Concept Paper and launched the Framework. In their Joint Press Communique they stated that “LMC will adhere to the spirit of openness and inclusiveness and complement and work in tandem with other sub-regional frameworks such as the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation Program, ASEAN Mekong Basin Development Cooperation (AMBDC) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to jointly promote regional integration process”.
In particular, according to the Sanya Declaration issued on 23 March, the Leaders have agreed to “enhance cooperation among LMC countries in sustainable water resources management and utilisation”. Among the activities envisaged a center in China for water resources cooperation would be established to serve as a platform for technical exchanges, capacity building, drought and flood management, data sharing, and joint research among other cooperation initiatives
“The MRC has been cooperating with China on hydrological data sharing since 2002,” said CEO Pham. “The new framework would present a new opportunity for the MRC to strengthen the tie with China and Myanmar, and we believe that we could and are ready to contribute to the new regional cooperation in water resource management with our 20 years of experience in that field.”
The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework was first proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in November 2014 at the China-ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, encouraged by Thailand’s 2012 initiative on a closer cooperation mechanism among the Mekong sub-region countries, aiming at “building a community of shared future of peace and prosperity” in the basin. Although the MRC per se is not a party to the LMC Framework at this stage, all the members of the MRC participate in the Framework.
Note to editors:
The MRC is an intergovernmental organisation for regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River Basin, established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement among Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The Organisation serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.
The MRC invited China and Myanmar as “dialogue partners” in 1996 and since then has been cooperating with the two partners in technical aspects of water resource management.