Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives Cambodia. Photo: Xinhua
China looks forward to working together more with the five other countries participating in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism in the areas of water conservation, education, culture and youth to create more fruitful outcomes, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday.
Li made the remark in a signed article in the Khmer Times, a Cambodian newspaper, one day before he kicks off his visit there on Wednesday and Thursday.
During his visit, Li will co-chair the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting. He'll be joined by leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. He also will pay an official visit to Cambodia and meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The cooperation mechanism, proposed by Li in 2014 during the 17th China-ASEAN leaders' meeting in Myanmar and kicked off in March 2016, centers on political and security issues; economic and sustainable development; and social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
The six countries, though different in economic size and industrial structure, "strive to advance cooperation through building consensus and turning economic complements into impetus for developmental cooperation", Li said in the article.
"The LMC draws from our time-honored friendship and our common aspirations for unity, cooperation and development," Li said.
Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou announced at a news briefing on Thursday that the upcoming leaders' meeting will issue its first five-year action plan and announce the second batch of cooperation projects.
Guo Yanjun, deputy director of the Institute of Asian Studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said approval of the five-year plan will be the highlight of this year's meeting.
"So far ... it has shown a common willingness for cooperation among the six countries," Guo said. "The five-year plan will mark out concrete guidance for next-step cooperation among the six countries and will see clearer areas of cooperation."
He stressed the mechanism will play an increasingly crucial role in China's efforts advocating the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"China has been firmly supporting ASEAN integration, but countries in ASEAN share a huge gap in both social and economic development. The cooperation mechanism will give targeted help to the five countries along the Mekong River so that the development gap inside ASEAN will be narrowed, which will contribute to the ASEAN integration process," Guo said.
Lu Guangsheng, professor of Southeast Asian studies at Yunnan University, said he expects areas of cooperation will expand during the leaders meeting.
"I expect that, given full play to its uniqueness in regional cooperation, the LMC can have a pioneering role in China's efforts in building a community of shared future, as well as the Belt and Road Initiative," Lu said.