Ladies and gentleman,
It gives me pleasure to join you in Vientiane, a beautiful city on the Mekong riverside. I would like to extend our appreciation to the government of Lao PDR for the efforts and thoughtful arrangements of this meeting and the Summit tomorrow. I wish the Ministerial Meeting and the 4th MRC summit a great success.
As we speak, changes unseen in a century are accelerating, the world has entered a new phase of turbulence and transformation. Global economic recovery is still fragile and unsteady, global industrial and supply chains are under stress. Problems such as inflation and food and energy security remain intricate. Accelerating sustainable development and economic recovery in sub-regional countries are still a difficult and challenging task.
Facing these challenges, China has been insisting on putting the people at the center, upholding the neighborhood policy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. China and Mekong countries have strengthened cooperation and helped each other to jointly fight the COVID-19 successfully. China has provided more than 200 million doses of vaccines to Mekong countries, and dispatched medical experts teams to support Mekong countries in their anti-pandemic efforts. This close cooperation guaranteed the rights to life and health of the people in the sub-region.
China works in close partnership with Mekong countries to jointly promote economic recovery. In 2022, trade between China and the five Mekong countries reached $416.7 billion, up by 5% year on year. China’s import of agricultural products from the five countries increased by 22%. High-quality Belt and Road cooperation continued to make solid progress. The China-Laos Railway has seen booming passenger and freight services since it was open to traffic. Construction on the China-Thailand Railway is making steady progress. The vision of interconnected development of China, Laos and Thailand has been launched officially. After China adjusted the COVID response measures, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam became the pilot countries where group tours from China have resumed, personnel exchange between China and Mekong countries went up rapidly. In January 2023 alone, Chinese tourists made nearly 100,000 trips to Thailand and 24,000 trips to Cambodia.
Ladies and gentleman,
There is a proverb in Laos that goes, "A single wood cannot make a fence, and a single person cannot build prosperity." Six sub-regional countries share common mountains and rivers. Our interests are interconnected, so are our destinies. Peace and stability are the common goals of sub-regional countries, and development and prosperity are the common aspirations of sub-regional people. Six countries need to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and work closer to advance sustainable development and recovery.
First, we need to prioritize development. Development holds the key to resolving difficult issues and delivering a happy life to our people. In 2021, President Xi Jinping put forth the Global Development Initiative(GDI), calling on the international community to refocus on development and injecting strong impetus to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Mekong countries are natural partners and beneficiaries of the implementation of the GDI. All five Mekong countries have joined the Group of Friends of the GDI. China is willing to work with sub-regional countries to jointly implement the GDI, and promote the high quality "Belt and Road" cooperation with a goal to deepen regional economic integration, and achieve an inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic recovery in the sub-region.
Second, we need to practice true multilateralism. The good cooperation between MRC member countries and dialogue partners over the years is not only a true portrayal of multilateralism, but also a sample of regional cooperation. We should continue to firmly practice true multilateralism and safeguard the international system with the UN at its core. We should take a clear-cut stand against unilateralism and bullying, insist on properly resolving differences through dialogue and consultation, and create a peaceful international environment for sub-regional development.
Third, we need to deepen partnership. There are various mechanisms and initiatives in the sub-region. We need to make full use of them and strengthen their coordination. Since its inception seven years ago, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) has been growing at a high level and becoming a golden model of success for sub-regional cooperation. The LMC Special Fund has supported the five countries with several hundreds of livelihood projects with tangible benefits to the people of the sub-region. China welcomes stronger synergy between MRC and LMC to better contribute to the sustainable development in the sub-region.
Fourth, we need to realize the harmony between humanity and nature. The environmental challenges and natural disaster risks brought by climate change continue to rise. We need to speed up coordinated green development, advance clean energy transition and improve the governance capacity of Mekong water resources. Under the Plan on Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Benefiting the People, a dozen projects have been conducted including demonstration projects for water supply in rural areas, small watershed management and safety checks for reservoirs and dams, which help Mekong countries improve sustainable development and protection of water resources. At the same time, we should also respect the legitimate rights and interests of riparian countries in the rational development and utilization of water resources, and take care of each others’ interests and concerns.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the years, China and Mekong countries have cherished brotherly friendship in joined hands to overcome difficulties and promote peace and development. Six countries have achieved remarkable development achievements and have set a model for sub-regional cooperation. China highly values the cooperation with MRC. Since we started dialogue relationship in 1996, we have worked together to advance water resources cooperation and promoted reasonable development and effective protection of the river of friendship based on the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.
Fruitful outcomes have been achieved in various fields including hydrological information sharing, emergency water supplement, joint research, personnel and technology exchanges and etc. Since November 2020, China has been providing Mekong countries and MRC with annual hydrological data of the Lancang River, which was another milestone in our cooperation. China has taken the initiative in launching the Lancang-Mekong Water Resource Cooperation Information Sharing Platform's website. Furthermore, China and MRC Secretariat now are carrying out the Joint Study on the Changing Patterns of Hydrological Conditions in the Lancang-Mekong basin and Adaptation Strategies etc. These active cooperation outcomes have deepened exchanges and mutual trust among upstream and downstream countries, and made significant contributions to the prosperity and stability in the sub-region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last October, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held successfully, setting the course and providing the blueprint for China’s development for now and the years to come. China will firmly continue to pursue peaceful coexistence and common development with all countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. We will advance a broader agenda of opening up across more areas and in greater depth. China will advance the Chinese path to modernization and put in place new systems for a higher-standard open economy. China will continue to share our development opportunities with the world, including Mekong countries for a community of shared future for Lancang-Mekong countries.