China offers 6 programs with Lancang-Mekong countries despite ‘customary’ Western provocation of ties

Aerial photo taken on March 11, 2021 shows the Eighth Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River, connecting Kampong Cham province and Tboung Khmum province in southeast Cambodia. (Shanghai Construction Group/Handout via Xinhua)

China on Monday proposed six programs that will benefit Lancang-Mekong countries other than China, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, including agricultural cooperation plans. , water resources, digital economy, aerospace, education and public health, as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the meeting of foreign ministers Lancang-Mekong Cooperation in Bagan, Myanmar.

The meeting came after the much-publicized US launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), seen by experts as an empty decision that lacks sustainability and substance, in stark contrast to the mechanism LMC pragmatic cooperation that has paid off. results since its launch in 2016.

Wang said the space cooperation plan with the five countries will include joint development of Earth observation satellites and space replication, and China will provide the five members with the ability to carry payloads on satellites. recoverable.

The Lancang-Mekong countries are also invited to join the International Lunar Research Station developed by China and Russia, to carry out cooperation in deep space exploration and space debris monitoring. China will also contribute to space technology training for the five countries.

In public health, China will provide COVID-19 vaccines to Lancang-Mekong countries and deepen partnership in COVID drug R&D.

LMC members will seek to further release the advantages of the China-Laos railway, Wang said, safeguarding regional production and supply chains and financial and energy security.

Opened to traffic last December, the China-Laos Railway is a historic high-quality joint project under the Belt and Road Initiative. As of June 30, the railway had carried 4 million passengers and about 5 million tons of freight, including 0.8 million tons of cross-border goods, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian during the meeting. Monday’s press conference.

“The China-Laos Railway has become an accelerator to boost regional connectivity, a new engine to boost economic cooperation, and a shining example of China-ASEAN cooperation to promote high-quality BRI development.” said Mr. Zhao.

Wang’s tour of Southeast Asia follows the US’s proposed launch of IPEF, which experts say lacks sustainability and doesn’t count as a free trade agreement but serves its interests geopolitics.

The LMC, however, stands in stark contrast to the IPEF, as the former has brought real benefits to ASEAN countries. China has supported more than 500 livelihood projects under the LMC, and trade with the five Mekong countries amounted to nearly $400 billion in 2021, a 23 percent year-on-year increase.

Under the mechanism, more than 20,000 students from five Mekong countries have studied in China on scholarships provided by the Chinese government, Xinhua reported.

Responding to some Western allegations that China’s construction of dams on the upper Lancang River is causing tension in the downstream region, Zhu Zhenming, a professor at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global on Monday. Times that he saw it as another custom Western provocation of China and neighboring countries.

“If the dams built by China have a negative impact, other Lancang-Mekong countries will let it know,” Zhu said. “These cooperating countries are the ones who know the facts, and they do not accept this argument.”

He pointed out that some of the natural disasters in recent years were mainly due to abnormal weather changes. Meanwhile, the Chinese region upstream of the Lancang River has also been affected, and there are no cases of China using the dam to relocate the damage.

Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin said when meeting with Wang on Sunday that his country cherishes the “Paukphaw” friendship with China and will continue to support China’s legitimate positions on Taiwan issues. , Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights, Xinhua reported.

Wang noted that the friendship has stood the test of complex changes and has not been affected by changes in respective countries. China supports the people of Myanmar in exploring the development path that suits Myanmar’s national conditions and supports Myanmar in safeguarding its legitimate interests in the international arena, he added.

“The situation in Myanmar is still in a tug of war with the local military controlling most parts of the country. Wang’s trip, although it is the highest official Chinese visit to Myanmar since its major reshuffle ministerial, does not imply that China “recognizes” the current administration as hyped by some Western media, as the purpose of Wang’s visit is to attend the LMC rather than engage in bilateral talks,” Xu Liping, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.