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Li Keqiang Chairs 1st Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting, Stressing to Jointly Forge Lancang-Mekong Community of Shared Destiny

On the morning of March 23, 2016, Premier Li Keqiang chaired the 1st Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting at the International Asia-Pacific Convention Center in Sanya, Hainan Province, and discussed with participating state leaders on the development of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) centering on the meeting theme "Shared River, Shared Future". Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of Laos, Vice President Sai Mauk Kham of Myanmar and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh of Viet Nam were present.

Li Keqiang expressed that with mountains and rivers linked and traditional friendship passed on from generation to generation, China and the five Mekong River countries are natural cooperative partners and close friendly neighbors. China has established comprehensive strategic cooperative partnerships with all the five Mekong River countries, sharing closely intertwined interests and solid cooperation foundation. Against such backdrop, the establishment of the LMC mechanism can be said to enjoy ripe conditions. Such a timely move will also help to inject fresh impetus to development and to betterment of people's lives in Asia as a whole. The five Mekong River countries are important members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and China stands squarely behind the ASEAN integration and the construction of the ASEAN community. The LMC mechanism, as a beneficial supplement to the China-ASEAN cooperation framework, is conducive to upgrading all-round cooperation between China and ASEAN. The LMC is also a new practice of the South-South cooperation, which will show our firm resolutions to jointly implement the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with concrete acts.

Li Keqiang pointed out that stronger Lancang-Mekong cooperation and even closer ties of friendship are the common aspiration of countries and peoples in the region. All sides need to work hand in hand to pursue cooperation and development, so as to build among the Lancang-Mekong countries a community of shared future that features solidarity, mutual assistance, equal-footed consultation, shared benefits and win-win cooperation.

Li Keqiang emphasized that Asia cannot develop without a peaceful and stable regional environment. Such an environment brings benefits to Lancang-Mekong sub-regional countries and provides the basis for Lancang-Mekong cooperation and development. China and the five Mekong River countries share a fine tradition featuring mutual respect, mutual trust, peaceful coexistence and mutual assistance, which also puts the six countries in a favorable position for cooperation. Good neighbors are a blessing. What we need to do is to make good use of the mature communication mechanisms, treat each other with sincerity and mutual accommodation, and consult with each other when necessary. This will enable us to deepen political mutual trust, and jointly contribute to peace and stability in the Lancang-Mekong sub-region.

Li Keqiang pointed out that the LMC, as a nascent thing, should stick to the following four orientations:

--Jointly pursue peace and stability. Whatever changes in the international and regional situation, the six Lancang-Mekong countries are always in one and the same community as forged by common interests and shared destiny. We need to redouble efforts and contribute even more to development and security interests of all the countries and the region, and together build the solid groundwork for durable peace, stability and development in the region.

--Give priority to development. The six nations need to take development as the primary goal of Lancang-Mekong cooperation and work to translate economic complementarity into real development impetus. The countries need to act according to the principle of equal-footed consultation, mutual learning, pragmatism, and being forward-looking, open and inclusive, and work with each other on the basis of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, so as to realize common development.

-- Focus on concrete projects. At present, all parties may, in light of conditions of every country, explore cooperation possibilities in the five priority areas of connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources, and agriculture and poverty reduction. The focus may be on the implementation of projects identified in the Joint List of Early Harvest Projects in order to bring the cooperation steadily forward through solid steps.

-- Promote openness and inclusiveness. The LMC is not closed and exclusive but open and inclusive. The three major pillars of the LMC match highly with the three major pillars of the construction of the ASEAN community, and we welcome active participation and support from other ASEAN members. The LMC can also well reinforce and run in parallel with existing mechanisms like the Greater Mekong Sub-regional (GMS) Economic Cooperation. Still, we welcome other countries in and outside the region to support the LMC process.

Li Keqiang stressed that at present although the economic development of China and the Mekong River countries has encountered some new challenges, the momentum of development remains to be strong. The synergy the six countries could forge through Lancang-Mekong cooperation will be much greater than the mere add-up of six individual countries. It will help the six nations withstand outside downward pressures, promote their respective development, and open up new ways for sub-regional development and revitalization. Li Keqiang put forward a four-point proposal on the future development of the LMC:

First, all sides should work together to build a Lancang-Mekong community of shared destiny. The countries need to enhance political mutual trust, increase high-level exchanges, step up governance experience sharing, and act as stronger supports of the development path each has chosen in the light of specific national conditions. The six countries also need to carefully nurture a cooperation culture distinctive of the Lancang-Mekong sub-region and build a Lancang-Mekong community of shared destiny that features solidarity, mutual assistance, equal-footed consultation, shared benefits and win-win cooperation. This will help lay a strong foundation for the fostering of an Asian community of shared destiny.

Second, all sides should speed up connectivity and production capacity cooperation. China has signed or is discussing with Mekong River countries cooperation documents on jointly building the "Belt and Road". China is ready to synergize its development strategy with that of countries in the sub-region. We need to expedite major projects including the China-Lao PDR railway, the China-Thailand railway, and the China-Myanmar land-water transportation facility. We may also explore the possibility of establishing border area economic zones, industrial parks, investment zones and transportation networks to improve infrastructure development in the Lancang-Mekong sub-region. Cooperation in infrastructure, engineering machinery, electric power, construction materials, communication and other fields should also be intensified. China can help the Mekong River countries to upgrade their industrialization levels through cooperation in production capacity, and is willing to set up concessional loans and credit line to support the cooperation projects of infrastructure construction and production capacity in the Lancang-Mekong region. China also will provide active support for infrastructure cooperation and development in the sub-region through such platforms as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund. China will further expand local currency settlement in trade and investment with Mekong countries, and may improve cross-border RMB clearance arrangement, so as to expand and upgrade trade in the Lancang-Mekong sub-region.

Third, all sides should focus on sustainable development. China will continue to implement the Cooperation Initiative on Poverty Reduction in East Asia and conduct demonstration projects of poverty alleviation cooperation in Mekong River countries. It will make prior use of the South-South Cooperation Aid Fund to help the five countries to achieve the goals stipulated in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China will also set up a special fund on LMC to support the small and medium-sized cooperation projects put forward by the six countries. China is ready to work with the Mekong River countries to jointly set up the Lancang-Mekong water resource cooperation center and environment cooperation center, enhance technological cooperation and exchanges of talents and information, and promote green, coordinated and sustainable development. It will reinforce the joint prevention and control of cross-border infectious diseases and cultivate more professionals in the field of public health for the five countries.

Fourth, all sides should build bridges of people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The six countries should carry out various forms of people-to-people and cultural exchanges in the fields such as education, science and technology, culture, tourism and youth. The Chinese side is willing to enhance cooperation in human resource training with the Mekong River countries, provide them an annual amount of 18,000 government scholarships and a total of 5,000 training opportunities in China in the next three years and explore the possibility to set up vocational education and training centers. China proposes to establish a center for comprehensive law enforcement and security cooperation in the Lancang-Mekong sub-region to conduct joint law enforcement and personnel training, so as to help foster a peaceful environment for countries in the region to pursue development and for the people to live a happier life.

Li Keqiang expressed that the annual sessions of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political and Consultative Conference (CPPCC) have deliberated and adopted the Government Work Report for this year and the outline of the "13th Five-Year Plan". China will continue to advance structural reform, promote economic transformation and upgrading, and vigorously develop the new economy. All these mean investment and cooperation opportunities for Mekong River countries and other countries in Asia. China stands ready to work with countries in the sub-region to promote sound and steady development of Lancang-Mekong cooperation, improve people's livelihood, achieve greater progress in China-ASEAN cooperation and make new contribution to peace, stability, prosperity and development in Asia.

The foreign leaders attending the meeting spoke highly of China's important contributions to the LMC. They stated that the first leaders' meeting bears milestone significance, demonstrating the common expectations of all countries. The LMC is established on the basis of good neighborliness and friendliness, mutual trust, equality and respect, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation and sharing of development, conforms to the development goals of all countries and keeps abreast of the process of ASEAN integration. As a beneficial supplement to the present regional cooperation mechanisms, the LMC will become a new model of the South-South Cooperation. They are willing to seize the opportunities, implement the consensus, improve the mechanism, deepen the cooperation in connectivity, production capacity, construction of cross-border economic zone, agriculture and poverty reduction, prevention and resistance of disasters, medical and health care, environment and water resources, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, law enforcement security and other fields and cope with common challenges, so as to promote peace and development of the region and bring benefits to people of all countries. The foreign leaders all appreciated China's recent release of emergency water supply to the lower reaches of the Lancang-Mekong River, considering such act as the concrete demonstration of China's policy of good-neighborliness and friendliness.

Yang Jing attended the meeting

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