GT Voice: LMC security cooperation key to combating financial crimes
Published: Dec 26, 2023 11:58 PM
The eighth Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River Photo: Xinhua

The eighth Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River Photo: Xinhua

With expanding financial activities between China and its neighboring countries, challenges in the area of financial security are giving rise to the growing need for regional cooperation in combating financial crimes, which is conducive to maintaining regional stability and creating a better environment for regional cooperation.

During the fourth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders' Meeting on Monday, China called for strengthened security cooperation to crack down on crimes such as online gambling and telecom fraud among the six LMC countries.

This sends a signal that the six - China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - will make security a focus of cooperation so as to create a more secure development environment for deepening regional economic and financial cooperation.

Not long ago, a joint China-Myanmar operation targeting criminal organizations involving cross-border telecom scams saw more than 31,000 suspects handed over to China, including 63 alleged leaders, organizers and key members, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Why does China attach so much importance to international cooperation in combating telecom fraud? This is because such fraud has become a global challenge. Criminals can commit crimes in one country against victims in another through false identities or technical means. 

Such online gambling and telecom fraud cases often involve cross-border capital flows, which could lead to financial risks. Moreover, legal and police enforcement systems vary from country to country, making it harder to crack down.

Judging from the results of China's cooperation with neighboring countries against telecom fraud, cross-border cooperation and efforts have become essential for the eradication of security problems that may hinder the economic integration and development of regional countries.

This time, China's call for strengthening security cooperation under the LMC framework to crack down on online gambling and telecom fraud will enrich the content of the LMC and create a stable external environment for deepening regional economic cooperation. 

The LMC countries are all at important junctures for accelerated development and modernization. By making joint efforts to address their common problems, these countries can enhance their mutual trust for cooperation, which could lay a solid foundation for the prosperity and development of the Lancang-Mekong region.

It is not just LMC nations that need joint security cooperation in combating regional financial crimes. There is also a growing urgency for financial security cooperation between China and Southeast Asian countries that aren't part of the LMC.

For instance, in August, Singapore police conducted raids on the members of an alleged money-laundering ring, who were charged with forging documents and laundering profits from scams and illegal online gambling. It was one of the biggest cases of suspected money laundering for the Asian financial hub, with the value of the assets seized standing at about $2 billion, according to Reuters.

Since the case undeniably hurt Singapore's image as a financial center, there has been much discussion in Singapore about how to strengthen regulations to prevent similar cases from happening again. Still, the case is a clear reminder that relying on one country to combat cross-border financial crimes may be not enough. Due to the differences in the financial supervision systems between China and Southeast Asian countries, criminals could exploit supervisory loopholes, leading to financial risks.

It's an inevitable trend and a real need for China and regional countries to expand financial cooperation, which will not and should not be hindered by financial crimes.

In order to address these security challenges, China and Southeast Asian countries can strengthen cooperation on information security, financial regulation, and anti-fraud and anti-money laundering efforts, as well as various monitoring mechanisms for financial stability. It is by constantly addressing challenges and solving problems that China's cooperation with Southeast Asian countries can move forward continuously.