China becomes economic dynamo propelling growth of Mekong River neighbors

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/11 21:36:47

China's pursuit of higher-quality growth has further cemented the nation's position as the dynamo of the global economy and there is sufficient reason to believe its neighboring economies, notably the countries traversed by the Mekong River, known as the Lancang River in China, will benefit as well.

The Chinese economy probably expanded about 6.9 percent last year, Premier Li Keqiang said at the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, according to the Xinhua News Agency. If that figure is confirmed, it would indicate a rebound in GDP growth after an expansion of 6.7 percent in 2016 that was the weakest in 26 years. This performance, achieved at a time when China is seen moving unhesitatingly away from a "numbers game," arguably points to the economy's resilience and supports global economic confidence.

China's development benefits from a favorable neighboring environment as well as serving as a powerhouse and stabilizer for the economic growth of its neighbors, Li stated. He noted that the Mekong River countries, in particular, will be among the earliest and largest beneficiaries of China's economy. His assertion, it is believed, is not only justified by China's strong trade and investment data, but a well-functioning development chain that makes China a locomotive of regional growth.

Last year, China's bilateral trade with the five Mekong River countries - Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos - reached $220 billion, an increase of 16 percent from the previous year. In addition, China's cumulative investment in those five countries has exceeded $42 billion, with the figure last year recording a rise of more than 20 percent.

On top of that, a China-centered ecosystem on which the five Mekong River countries depend on for social and economic development spreads the benefits of China's reforms and growth throughout the wider region.

As an indisputable power in the region, China also has a huge market that increasingly sets trends for its neighbors. Furthermore, the Mekong River countries have become more incorporated with China's supply chain. The country's transition to a focus on advanced manufacturing and services has opened space for the nations along the Mekong River to rise as global manufacturing hubs.

Finally, there's another key factor that helps these five nations' economies integrate with that of China. They all boast political stability and they are generally immune to Western pressure to become arenas for color revolutions, nor do they bow to accusations of human rights violations.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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