Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry lauds 8 years of Mekong-Lancang Cooperation as ‘win-win’

Minister Chenda Sophea said the MLC Special Fund remains a vital financial resource for new projects in various fields including rural development, water resources, health, education, and women’s empowerment among others.

Sok Raksa

Sok Raksa

The Phnom Penh Post


Local fishermen prepare to cast their nets from their boat on the Mekong River on January 18. PHOTO: THE PHNOM PENH POST

March 21, 2024

PHNOM PENH – Over the past eight years, the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) mechanism has not only established itself as an effective model for win-win cooperation but has also made consistent progress, enhancing collaboration among Mekong countries in various fields, according to Cambodia’s foreign ministry.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sok Chenda Sophea highlighted these achievements in a congratulatory message marking the 8th anniversary of the MLC and MLC Week 2024, which runs from March 18-24.

The MLC was founded on March 23, 2016, and includes six participating countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China.

“The initiation of the MLC in 2016 reflected the shared ambitions of our six leaders to foster peace, stability and comprehensive development, and to establish a community with a shared future of peace and prosperity for our people and the world,” stated Chenda Sophea.

He noted that the framework had achieved remarkable success in the past eight years, serving as a paradigm of effective win-win cooperation and significantly enhancing collaboration.

“The mechanism also underpins the region’s long-term growth and sustainable development, particularly through the successful execution of the five-year MLC Action Plan 2018-22, which has yielded fruitful benefits for the well-being of our people,” he added.

The minister said the MLC Special Fund remains a vital financial resource for new projects in various fields including rural development, poverty alleviation, water resources, agriculture, air transport, health, education, tourism, culture and women’s empowerment.

He also noted that the MLC will persist as a positive force in harmony with other Mekong subregion mechanisms, complementing initiatives like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI), the Global Civilisation Initiative (GCI) and China’s Global Artificial Intelligence Governance Initiative.

Chenda Sophea firmly believes that the MLC framework will continue to drive the community towards a prosperous and successful future for the region.

At the 4th MLC Leaders’ Meeting in December 2023, all participating government heads reaffirmed the “Nay Pyi Taw Declaration”, a document adopted during the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar in 2014, outlining shared commitments and goals for regional cooperation and development among member states.

On December 25, 2023, Prime Minister Hun Manet attended the meeting via video link from the Peace Palace, held under the theme “Joining Hands on the Building of a Community of Shared Future and Modernisation among Mekong-Lancang Countries”.

The primary focus of the meet was on achieving the socio-economic development of the subregion, enhancing the well-being of its people, narrowing the development gap and building a community for a shared future of peace and prosperity.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, also remarked on the MLC’s role as a corridor linking China with other Mekong River countries, benefiting all within the framework of the greater Mekong subregion.

“Thus, these collaborations have led to other dialogues that have yielded beneficial cooperation and partnership results between the Mekong and Lancang,” he said.

He acknowledged that in the current global context of changing world order, regional organisations need to collaborate more closely to support each other in addressing various issues.

Peou highlighted that cooperation with China has resulted in numerous development projects along the Mekong, including developments such as high-speed railways to Vientiane in Laos and significant transport infrastructure projects.

“At the same time, Cambodia has also embarked on numerous development projects, such as the construction of infrastructure for hydropower, roads, bridges, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport [SAI] and other projects. These are results of the BRI within the MLC network,” he added.

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