When Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday at the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting that China will give priority to providing Covid-19 vaccines to the Mekong River countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – and share hydrological information with them, he was driving home the message that China will do its utmost to help these countries better cope with shared challenges.
For thousands of years, the 4,909km river, called the Lancang in China, has borne testimony to the thriving cultural, trade and human ties in the region. And although Monday’s meeting was virtual, it provided a platform for the six countries to forge consensuses free of any interference from outside forces.
The focus of the meeting was on strengthening cooperation to address the novel coronavirus that necessitated the meeting being conducted by video links, including ways to promote the region’s sustainable development in the face of the challenges caused by the outbreak.
Mutual respect and win-win cooperation on an equal footing saw the trade volume between China and the other five countries hit more than $260 billion in 2018, and China’s investment in these countries has exceeded $45 billion.
China is also a major partner to the five countries in areas such as health, education, technology, security, and various other fronts.
To some extent, it is China’s rise over the past 40 years that has driven the common development of the region, and created space for the countries to tap into their complementarities.
And their thriving cooperation has fostered a strong sense among the six countries that they form a community with a shared future. This in turn has helped them maintain a peaceful and stable neighborhood environment that benefits all of them.
Which constitutes a stark contrast with the beggar-thy-neighbor policy some countries have adopted, and the China threat theories some politicians try to peddle around the world.
The agenda of the meeting, which highlighted greater cooperation on public health, environmental and ecological protection and responses to natural disasters, along with the promotion of trade and investment, means all the participating countries have realised the urgency and necessity to upgrade their coordination and cooperation so as to better address these common challenges together.
None of these threats, whether the current pandemic or disasters related to climate change, can be resolved by any of the countries on its own.
As such, this meeting can be regarded as a milestone marking the point at which the close regional cooperation was directed toward addressing nonconventional problems. In so doing, the region has again set an example of not only how good neighborhood can be achieved, but more importantly what it can achieve.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK