Mekong cooperation has promising future

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-24 0:48:01

The first Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders' Meeting, held in Sanya, Hainan Province Wednesday, has agreed to enhance cooperation in many fields along the Lancang-Mekong River. This mega coordinating project incorporating six parties has outlined a promising picture for regional countries.

This sub-regional cooperation enjoys geological advantages and is necessary for regional development. Water is an essential resource for the development of these countries. A cross-border river can both better and worsen multilateral relationships. 

The Lancang-Mekong basin is not an isolated area. It is a subset of a much larger Southeast Asian region and has drawn attention from forces much farther afield. Since China started developing the Lancang River in the 1990s, downstream countries have paid close attention, and concerns have even been shared by some outsiders. After the six countries along the river - China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam - decided to establish a cooperative mechanism in November 2014, the US and its allies, for instance, Japan, have been naysayers.

Pessimistic voices have dominated public opinion in countries outside the region, giving conjecture that China, as an upstream country, does not only have the economic and political power to direct the six-party cooperation, but also controls the water supply to the downstream nations. They imply, whether explicitly or implicitly, that China is attempting to gain the upper hand in this sub-regional cooperation mechanism to gain more leverage and even manipulate the other five nations.

Objectively speaking, upstream nations along international rivers have natural advantages and are able to take initiatives. This is common sense. The downstream nations were concerned about China's intentions when the latter started to build dams on the Lancang River. Up till now, these countries still feel insecure about these dams. This is understandable. However, these dams have never harmed the interests of the downstream nations. Time will prove that they will play a significant role in preventing floods and fighting droughts.

The Western media also hype China's "dominant role" in the LMC mechanism. They habitually characterize one or two powerhouses as the dominant party when they interpret multilateral cooperative mechanisms. If China is defined as a "dominant" force in the LMC mechanism, it will be responsible in this role. China values equality and cooperation, and it will use its influence with caution.

The US and Japan have been harboring unkind thoughts to provoke China's relationship with countries along the Lancang-Mekong river, as if they are more worried than these countries that they will be strategically hampered by China in this region. Washington and Tokyo have investments in these countries, and their NGOs, which have influence in local communities, keep chiming in with their governments.

Countries along the Mekong River are cooperative in working with China in this mega project, because they share a common purpose of improving the economy and the region. It must be noted that China should put more effort into promoting this cooperation to the grass roots, making sure the people can feel the benefit. This is essential to defending this cooperation against Western countries' attacks.

Posted in: Editorial

blog comments powered by Disqus