China to help develop Mekong River basin

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BOAO, China — China and five Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River said Wednesday that they have agreed to work together to develop the region, building infrastructure and modernizing industries with an infusion of Chinese funds and resources.

The joint communique on their effort to beef up production capacity was issued as China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar held a summit-level meeting in the southern Chinese city of Sanya, Hainan Province. At the meeting hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the participants agreed to create a framework through which China’s excess industrial production capacity can be channeled to help develop the areas along the major river system.

Citing the need to upgrade infrastructure and industrial structures in the Mekong River basin, the six nations agreed to collaborate in such fields as power generation and transmission, automobiles, metallurgy, building materials, transportation infrastructure, and production facilities.

China will offer direct investment and technological cooperation as well as export production facilities to help in development. In addition to the use of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for securing funds for the efforts, Li announced the establishment of an up to $10 billion line of credit for importers of Chinese products, as well as a total of 10 billion yuan ($1.54 billion) in low-interest loans for infrastructure development.

Leaders from the six countries also adopted the Sanya Declaration and promised to promote political and cultural exchanges among them. In the face of a severe drought that is gripping Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, the declaration included an agreement on better use of water resources in the basin.

The six countries previously met once every three years, hosted by the Asian Development Bank, which is led by the U.S. and Japan. Beijing is apparently trying to transform the gathering into a top-level meeting of the six countries held in China, with an eye toward integrating the countries into its economic zone of influence.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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