“I hope that the Lancang-Mekong River Dialogue and Cooperation Mechanism will become a symbol of ASEAN-China cooperation,” a Vietnamese expert has told Xinhua in a recent interview here.

According to Tran Viet Thai, deputy director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies under Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Diplomatic Academy, the Lancang-Mekong is among important mechanisms for the cooperation among Mekong countries.

There are cooperation mechanisms between Mekong countries with other outsiders, including the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) of the United States, the Mekong-Japan initiative and the Mekong-South Korea, among others, but, “This is the first time that lower Mekong countries have an official cooperation mechanism with China, which is an upper country, to share

information, coordinate sustainable use of water resource, as well as a mechanism to connect infrastructure and transport logistics production between upper and lower Mekong countries,” Thai said.

The expert said this is a good thing as it is the first time such countries can sit down together.

“This is good and I welcome this mechanism. I expect that the Lancang-Mekong mechanism will be one which is

really for the people. There should be effective and practical projects and forums to protect the environment in the Mekong region,” Thai said.

“We also expect the sustainable and equitable use of the Mekong water resource in both the upper and lower region. We expect the connectivity of transport infrastructure and production between upper and lower Mekong region for the sharing of the river and the guarantee of a sustainable future of the Mekong River as, I think, one of the major rivers in the region and the world,” said the expert.

“The mechanism is expected to contribute to the cooperation and peace, prosperity and stability in the region among Mekong countries, thus narrowing the development gap between Mekong countries and other

ASEAN members,” he said.

“This is not the first mechanism concerning Mekong cooperation. Therefore, there will be comparison between the Lancang-Mekong mechanism and previous ones. I hope that China will carry out thorough studies of other

mechanisms in order to make its commitments greater, faster, stronger, and more specific than the previous mechanisms, despite being made later,” the expert told Xinhua.

Thai expressed his expectation that the cooperation between China and Mekong countries will yield clear and practical effectiveness.

“It should be guaranteed that this will be a region for harmonious development to achieve common benefits. I think these are important things to do.”

“I think the highest expectation and the key to the success of the Lancang-Mekong mechanism is the sustainable and equitable use of the Mekong water resource, both upper and lower region. This is an important point. Ecological environmental protection and improving living standards of the Mekong citizens are also very important,” Thai said.

Talking about production capacity cooperation, the expert said, “I highly appreciate the idea of promoting the production capacity cooperation in the Lancang-Mekong mechanism. But it will take time to implement as there must be certain foundations from both sides. It is not easy for production capacity cooperation as there are several countries in the region, especially in the lower Mekong region including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar whose development levels are limited.”

“Businesses should participate, especially big

ones with advanced science and production-technology level. Production capacity cooperation should create value chains and a division of labor which benefit both sides. We should find the advantages of the lower Mekong countries so as to make suitable plans for production capacity cooperation,” Thai said.

“I welcome production capacity cooperation, but if the level of production capacity is too high, surpassing the capacity of several countries, it will be very difficult.”

“Science-technology transfer is needed for production capacity cooperation. I think that the participation of businesses is very important,” Thai said.

As the ASEAN countries are building their community, Thai said the Lancang-Mekong is expected to be an effective additional mechanism which supports the building of the ASEAN Community.

“It is needed to promote connectivity, especially transport connectivity, and logistics services. It is very important and laudable if we can realize the

target of production capacity connection which is suitable with internal capacity of ASEAN members.”

“We hope that the Lancang-Mekong mechanism will help narrow the development gap between CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) and the six other ASEAN countries.”

The mechanism will bring opportunities, but being able to realize the opportunities depends on the implementation of the mechanism, the design of projects and programs’ suitability with the capacity of each country, Thai said.

“But I think that on the basis of friendship, cooperation, respecting independence, sovereignty and

territorial integrity, as well as on the basis of equality, the mechanism will be developed as per its good purpose, and will contribute to the friendship and prosperity of ASEAN-China as well as China and lower Mekong countries, including Vietnam,” said the expert.

By NGUYEN THI THUY ANH and ZHANG JIANHUA Mar. 14, 2016 on XinhuaNet

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