The Cambodian government on Thursday received $7.66 million from the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund 2018 to implement 19 projects.
Initiated by the Chinese government during the first LMC Leaders’ meeting in China’s Hainan province in March 2016, the LMC Special Fund aims to support small- and medium-sized projects put forward by the six Lancang-Mekong countries – China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The fund was provided in a signing ceremony attended by Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian.
“Since the launch of the LMC, Cambodia has received a total of 35 projects covering a broad scope of cooperation activities in the field of agriculture, tourism, ICT, education and research, water resources, rural development, air connectivity cultural and religious exchanges."
“Several of them were completed and the remaining are near completion or have made substantial progress,” said Sokhonn.
He said that although the fund does not cover mega-infrastructure projects, their impact for the sub-region is significant.
“To me, the other true value of these small projects is that they can produce tangible results that touch the lives of the people and contribute to improving their well-being,” he said.
Sokhonn cited a 2017 LMC-funded project that enabled 25 Cambodian students from Kandal province to study telecommunication and engineering at the Tianjin Sino-German University of Applied Sciences.
“For students coming from rural areas, these are their dream scholarships, which will most likely enable them to secure their dream jobs after graduation,” he said.
Wang told reporters after the ceremony that the Kingdom had received more LMC-funded projects than any other Lancang-Mekong nations for two years in a row – 16 projects in 2017 and 19 last year.
“We firmly believe that the successful implementation of these projects would bring huge benefits to the Cambodian people and improve their livelihoods in many areas,” he said.
While welcoming the latest grant, Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said China also stands to gain substantially from the LMC Special Fund initiative.
“In [international] cooperation, it is normal that some [countries] benefit more while some benefit less. They cannot blame China. Essentially, as a member, Cambodia should improve its capability, intelligence, strength and leadership in order to benefit even more,” he said.
The latest 19 projects include, among others, scholarship programmes, project management training, poverty reduction via rural economic development and integration development along the Mekong River.
It also includes Inter-religion dialogue on peace and sustainable development and capacity building via Mekong-Lancang Cooperation for the digital economy.