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Chinese Investors Eye Mekong River Region
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Chinese enterprises are increasing their investments in the Mekong River Subregion (MRS) -- Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Viet Nam -- for their advantages of geographical locations and close relations with China.

MRS is a subreigonal cooperation system initiated by Asia Development Bank in 1992. In the past 10 years, cooperation in transportation, energy, agriculture, tourism, investment, trade and technology has started, which has accordingly boosted regional development.

China's participation into MRS is a step further to strengthening ties with ASEAN. With the "Go Out" strategy it has adopted in recent years, the Chinese government encourages its enterprises to invest overseas, in neighboring ASEAN nations in particular.

Statistics show that Chinese enterprises have invested over US$260 million in 240 items in Thailand, the highest among ASEAN member countries.
China is also the second largest investor in Laos, according to a research report from the Kasikorn Research Center (KRC). Rising from US$2.7 million in 1998 to the current US$15 million, the Chinese investment mainly focuses on infrastructure development.

Though the pace having been slowed down in the past four years, Chinese investment still ranks No. 7 in Myanmar. KRC believes that the investment will regain growth impetus since the two countries' leaders visited each other in early 2004. Myanmar government tries to lure investment from abroad, especially from China, so as to relieve the pressure caused by the sanctions Western countries imposed on it.

Cambodia becomes China's investment base in the region due to close bilateral political ties. China has invested over US$80 million there in the past 10 years, ranking the third.

In Viet Nam, Chinese investment ranks the 15th, though the total amount accounts for only 1 percent of its total. However, the figure is steadily growing, the current average annual investment being about US$30 million. China may possibly become one of Viet Nam's major investing nations in the near future, according to KRC.

(China.org.cn by Tang Fuchun September 8, 2004)

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