Chinese economy grew 'around 6.9%' in 2017

Chinese economy grew 'around 6.9%' in 2017

As expected, the first day of the two-day summit did not discuss the Chinese request to dynamite islets and shoals in the Mekong off Chiang Rai province.

Hailing the second LMC leaders' meeting as fruitful, Li said China expects to maintain close coordination with Cambodia within the frameworks of LMC as well as China-ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) cooperation and to contribute to regional development and prosperity.

On the sidelines of the event, PM Phuc had working sessions with Cambodian PM Hun Sen, Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

At more than 45,000 kilometers long, the Mekong is the biggest river in Southeast Asia - and the most controversial.

The MLC is a sub-regional cooperation mechanism that was jointly established in 2016 by six countries along the Mekong River, namely Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Governments build dams to harness its hydropower and produce electricity.

Today's summit will further legitimise China's leadership of the Mekong region. They also called for greater cooperation in managing and utilizing water resources.

The biennial MLC Leaders' Meeting is organised in rotation among the member countries.

China, Asia leaders discuss Mekong dam projects

For his part, Hun Sen said Premier Li's visit would consolidate the bilateral friendship and boost the two countries' comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new stage.

When asked if the two schemes overlap or compete politically and economically, Sok Siphana, advisor to the Cambodian government who is in charge of both schemes, said they instead complement each other. "They are really committed and deliver what they have said or promised". With no power to prevent China from damming its own portion of the river, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit could be the best way for the downstream countries to influence plans for the river.

The plan prioritises "cooperation" among Thailand, China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in such areas as connectivity, production capacity, water resources, agriculture and poverty reduction.

The main reason why China performed well past year was because it refrained from "flooding" the economy with stimulus while pushing ahead with supply-side reforms and cultivating new sources of momentum, Li said.

As an important mechanism along the Lancang-Mekong river sub-region, the LMC mechanism has been focusing on sustainable development and pragmatic cooperation in the sub-region and serving as an important platform for implementing the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. More than 60 million people depend on the river and its tributaries for food, water, transport and many other things in their daily lives.

In exchange, Cambodia pledged to support China's global goals, including its claims to disputed territory in the South China Sea. The basin is home to 1,200-1,700 fish species, making it the most diverse basin after the Amazon and Congo.

Yet the river is also another potential source of regional tensions due to an increasing number of hydroelectric projects that are altering its flow and raising concerns of ecological damage.

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