Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

China-Cambodia cooperation is called a good model for countries

China-Cambodia cooperation is called a good model for countries

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd L) attends the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 10, 2018.

China eyes stronger ties with the other five countries along the Lancang-Mekong river, pledging new loans, medical aids and scholarships to its neighbors.

Hailing recent achievements of Cambodia in diverse areas, the Vietnamese PM believed that the Cambodian government led by Hun Sen will continue to lead the country to peace, stability and prosperity. They also called for greater cooperation in managing and utilizing water resources.

Cambodia appreciates China's firm support and help over the years, and wishes Chinese people to realize their Two Centenary Goals at an early date, he said.

With a theme of "Our River of Peace and Sustainable Development", Wednesday's meeting brought leaders of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to the table on such issues as connectivity, water management and industrial production capacity.

Last week, Chinese vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou said that in addition to being its largest source of global aid, China is also Cambodia's largest source of foreign investment, its largest trade partner, and its largest source of foreign tourists.

In 2017, Chinese investment in countries along the Lancang-Mekong River increased by 20 percent, bilateral trade increased by 16 percent, and personnel exchanges increased by about 80 percent.

China typically offers aid to countries without numerous prerequisites that the USA and European Union place on donations, such as improvements to human rights.

With control over the headwaters of the river - known there as the Lancang - Beijing can dam its section of the river while the impacts are felt downstream.

"There is major concern that China's leading role and relative influence will see it prioritizing its own interests over meaningful co-operation", warned Maureen Harris, Southeast Asia program director at International Rivers.

In 2018, China will offer short-term training and in-service education for 2,000 people from the Mekong countries and 100 four-year scholarships for undergraduates.

Leaders of the six countries along the Lancang-Mekong River are in Cambodia to discuss region's development and nature preservation.

The project is set to start this year and would take at least 44 months to complete, he added.

The MLCG summits are held every two years (the foreign ministers meet every year).

With progress and results delivered daily, monthly and annually, the Chinese premier said a truly remarkable LMC speed had been created, and a defining LMC culture featuring equality, sincerity, mutual assistance and kinship had been established.

Leaders of the six riparian countries held their first meeting in China in 2016 and the next summit is to take place in Laos in 2020.

The Lancang River originates on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwestern China.

Overriding priorities should be given to hydro-meteorological statistics and information sharing, cooperation in response to droughts and floods and joint scientific research to construct reservoirs along the Mekong River as well as infrastructure development to facilitate flows of commodities, services and capital, and local people's travel, he noticed.

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