Lancang-Mekong water cooperation enters new golden era amid great acknowledgement from six countries
Published: May 29, 2023 08:09 PM
 The 2023 LMC Week Activities on Water Resources Conference was held in Beijing on May 26.

The 2023 LMC Week Activities on Water Resources Conference was held in Beijing on May 26.

Politicians and experts from six Lancang-Mekong River countries expressed their anticipation for Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) to entering a new golden era in the next five years amid laudable achievements in recent years at the 2023 LMC Week Activities on Water Resources successfully held in Beijing, on May 26. 

As the first new sub-regional cooperation mechanism, the LMC has continued to develop at an advanced level over the last seven years since its launch, becoming a "golden model" of regional cooperation. All countries in the basin have witnessed actual benefits from the cooperative scheme, vowing to facilitate the building of a global community of shared future among Lancang-Mekong countries in the new era, via closer cooperation as strengthened by improved mutual trust.

Representatives from the relevant riparian countries offered active suggestions on the Five-year Plan of Action Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation (2023-2027) - a priority area under the LMC framework.

They have appealed for joint efforts in promoting technical exchanges, joint research, and pragmatic projects that directly serve people's livelihoods in the fields of climate change adaptation, flood and drought disasters management, water information monitoring, technical standards and specifications, as well as infrastructure construction related to water, and other areas of common interest for the next five years.
The Lancang-Mekong area is one of the regions with the greatest development potentials in Asia. Lancang and Mekong differ in name, but refer to the same river — an important water system which runs across China and Southeast Asia. It is called the Lancang River in China, while in its downstream region after flowing out of Yunnan Province, it is called the Mekong River, running through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and measuring 4,880 kilometers in length while covering an area of 795,000 square kilometers.

Thanks to the solidarity and joint efforts of the six countries concerned, the LMC has become one of the most dynamic and promising cooperation mechanisms in the sub-region, Ambassador Yu Hong from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China noted at the activity on Friday.

The six countries agreed to jointly build a demonstration zone for high-quality construction of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an early zone for the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and an experimental zone for the Global Security Initiative (GSI), in order to build a closer community of shared future for the countries along the river, Yu noted.

Water resource cooperation plays a key and fundamental role in flood and drought disaster prevention and control, food, energy, and water supply security, ecological protection, sustainable economic and social development, and people's well-being in the Lancang-Mekong region, one of the most promising regions in the world, Jin Hai, director-general of the International Economic and Technical Cooperation and Exchange Center at China's Ministry of Water Resources, said at the activity.  

The last five years have seen substantial tangible cooperation under the scheme of the LMC. First, the information sharing among riparian countries has been further extended. The data sharing platform has been running smoothly, and the annual hydrological statistics of the river have been continuously shared with the downstream.

Second, the capacity to control severe floods and drought has been largely enhanced via cooperative efforts among member countries, given China's scientific regulation at its upstream hydropower stations.
Moreover, China has provided over 1000 exchanges and training sessions for personnel from Mekong countries and fully funded 152 young water conservancy talents from Mekong countries to study in China. A number of joint research projects have also been carried out to address risks and challenges in the basin.

Benjamin Sukanjanajtee, Minister and Deputy Chief of the Mission of the Royal Thai Embassy reiterated that Thailand stands ready and is determined to work closely with China and Mekong countries to further advance water resource cooperation under the LMC for the benefits of the sub-region and its peoples.

"We appreciate all LMC member countries for their contribution and active work, in particular China for providing financial support to more than 600 development projects across the Mekong sub-region through the LMC Fund," the minister said, adding that Thailand strives to build trust, confidence, and mutual understanding among concerned parties to avoid the politicization of the issue. 

As of March, 59 projects in Thailand had been approved, receiving more than US$16 million from budget support. The fund has promoted the implementation of a large number of high quality "small yet beautiful" projects that benefit people's livelihoods.

The Global Times learned from the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Center, a core platform for the LMC, that about half of the projects or activities implemented under the LMC scheme are directly linked to people's livelihoods. 
With support from the LMC Special Fund, a numbers of water supply facilities, water purifying plants, and water storage structures have been built by member countries to address the issues of drinking water shortage and subpar quality. These projects have greatly upgraded the level of water security and living conditions of local people including women and children.

"Cambodia appreciates China's strong commitment and active engagement in promoting and maintaining the momentum of the LMC framework till present day," Khek, Caimealy, Ambassador of Cambodia to China, said at the activity on Friday. She suggested that the LMC has "assisted the Lancang Mekong countries in their sustainable socio-economic development and supported regional prosperity to gain more productive and tangible outcomes."

Similarly, Zin Mar Htwe, Minister Counsellor of the Myanmar Embassy said that water resources cooperation among the six member countries has been carried out in the manner of equal consultation, mutual respect, and mutual benefit. "This model has greatly enhanced mutual understanding and trust in the field of water resources among the six member countries and is believed to be essential to address basin-wide challenges and share opportunities for development," said the envoy on Friday.
Pham Thanh Ha, Political Counselor of Embassy of Vietnam in China, vowed at the activity that the country wishes to work closely with other LMC countries in all activities under the next Golden Five-year Action Plan to realize the visions of member countries' leaders.

At present, the economy of the subregion has expanded greatly and the subregion is experiencing rapid urbanization. Water and natural resources are under increasing and often competing demand, experts said at the session. They called for more water infrastructure to ensure sustainable socio-economic development while mitigating the impacts on the environment. 

They suggested that the six member states actively carry out exchanges and joint projects so as to facilitate green, balanced, and sustainable development in the region.