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GMS Cooperation - An Unstoppable Trend
2011/12/20

On 20 December 2011, the 4th Summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program (GMS) was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Upon the conclusion of the summit, Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin gave an interview to the Xinhua News Agency on the summit.

Q: What was the background to this summit? How do you view China's achievements in its participation in the GMS cooperation and China's contribution to the program ?

A: Since its inception in 1992, the GMS program has been running on a smooth track, and the first GMS Summit was held in 2002. Even as turbulence in west Asia and north Africa persists and the European debt crisis continues to fester, the Greater Mekong Subregion has enjoyed overall stability, deepening cooperation and remarkable economic growth. To expand common interests and advance friendship and cooperation is the wish shared by all the six GMS countries. It is against such a background that State Councilor Dai Bingguo led a Chinese delegation to the 4th GMS Summit. This is another major diplomatic activity China conducted in its neighborhood to strengthen cooperation and promote good-neighborly relationships with other countries in the subregion.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the GMS program and has always played an active part in pushing this process forward. Before the summit, China released the 4th Country Report on China's Participation in the Greater Mekong Subregion Cooperation, giving a comprehensive account of the good momentum of the economic and trade development between China and other GMS countries and its contribution to the economic and social development of those countries since the 3rd GMS Summit in 2008, especially since the launch of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

Q: The new Ten-Year Strategic Framework was adopted at the summit. What significant role will it play in boosting the economic and social development of GMS members and advancing subregional integration? What is your comment on the outcomes of this summit?

A: It has been almost 20 years since the GMS was launched. Over the past two decades, following the principles of enhancing mutual respect and equal consultation, being result-oriented and promoting steady progress, the GMS countries have carried out cooperation in such areas as infrastructure development, trade facilitation and environmental protection, and scored notable achievements, benefiting all countries in the subregion. In the face of both challenges and opportunities for GMS cooperation, all GMS members, including China, believe that it is in their shared interest to unite more closely to enhance economic integration, promote sustainable development and open a new chapter of the GMS cooperation for common development and prosperity. At the summit, State Councilor Dai Bingguo made an address entitled "Advance Mutually Beneficial Cooperation for a Brighter Future". He reviewed with other GMS leaders the course of development of the GMS cooperation, gave an in-depth analysis of the current situation and major tasks facing GMS countries, expounded on China's positions regarding subregional cooperation in the next ten years and put forward the following five proposals: first, engage in comprehensive and multi-tiered cooperation on connectivity of transport, shipping, information and power grids; second, promote transport and trade facilitation and the development of economic corridors with priority given to the building of industrial parks and economic cooperation zones; third, boost cooperation in environmental protection, agriculture, science and technology and human resources training; fourth, enhance capacities for mobilizing resources for GMS cooperation; and fifth, encourage the active participation of local governments and the private sector in GMS cooperation.

Cooperation documents such as the new GMS Ten-Year Strategic Framework (2012-2022) were adopted at the summit. The leaders also issued the Joint Summit Declaration. The new Strategic Framework puts forward three strategic goals for cooperation over the next ten years, namely, advancing subregional integration, facilitating trade, investment and tourism, and promoting the strategic framework of sustainable development, and eight priority areas are identified for future cooperation. The Strategic Framework fully demonstrates the role GMS cooperation projects play in promoting the economic and social development of GMS countries, moving forward subregional integration and guiding the development of subregional cooperation.

Q: What is China's vision and hope for future GMS cooperation?

A: Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the GMS cooperation. We have full confidence in its future. We believe that the six GMS countries are closely connected sharing the same rivers and mountains. China's development would not have been possible without the support and help of other GMS countries, and the prosperity and progress of the subregion also needs China's development. Common interests have bonded us closely together. It is our hope that in the next ten years, GMS members will continue to follow the principle of cooperation, steadily push for new and substantive outcomes, and lift GMS cooperation to a new high. China will stay committed to the policy of building good-neighborly relationship and partnership with neighboring countries, strengthen solidarity and coordination with other GMS members, the Asian Development Bank and the relevant partners and work with them to advance the integration process in the interest of development and prosperity of the subregion.

Q: How does China view the development of its relations with other GMS members?

A: On the sidelines of the summit, State Councilor Dai Bingguo met with President U Thein Sein and Vice President U Tin Aung Myint Oo of Myanmar, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of the Lao PDR, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Viet Nam and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand respectively, and exchanged views with them on bilateral ties, subregional cooperation and global and regional issues of shared interest. The leaders of other GMS countries spoke highly of the support and assistance China has provided over the years and expressed their commitment to further strengthening the traditional friendship and practical cooperation with China and taking forward the GMS cooperation in pursuit of poverty alleviation, economic and social development and improvement of people's livelihood in the GMS countries.

The development of bilateral ties between China and other GMS members contributes to solidarity and cooperation among the GMS countries, serves stability and prosperity of the region, and is highly significant for fostering a favorable environment in China's neighborhood. We are confident that with joint efforts of all parties, the good-neighborly relationships between China and other GMS countries will further grow, and GMS cooperation will embrace an even brighter future.

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