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Mekong Region Growth Pushed
China will take a more active role in the development of the greater Mekong sub-region, Premier Zhu Rongji pledged yesterday while addressing the first Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Economic Cooperation Summit.

The GMS economic cooperation programme has been assisted by the Asian Development Bank since its inception in 1992, with a vision of creating a better integrated, more prosperous and equitable Mekong region.

The leaders of China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, countries sharing the Mekong River, attended the half-day summit in Phnom Penh and issued a Summit Declaration and a Development Programme at its conclusion.

The Mekong River is an important trans-national river in Asia - its Chinese section is known as the Lancang River.

Zhu said that with the support of the Asian Development Bank, the GMS co-operation should be effective, action-oriented and focus on specific projects to promote the overall economic development of countries along the river.

Zhu said the region should also push for cooperation in trade, improve the investment environment, the development of human resources, tourism, agriculture, drug prohibition and environmental protection.

"We should enhance our capabilities in ecological protection and the rational development of water resources for a sustainable economic development," Zhu said.

And he said China will continue its co-operation with GMS countries in shipping, agriculture and health and will next year hold training seminars on information technology, customs and trade.

China yesterday joined the GMS Agreement for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Movement of People and Goods.

The six countries also signed the Inter-governmental Agreement of Power Trade during the summit.

China released a report on its participation in the development of the Mekong River Basin.

In other developments yesterday, China and Laos signed an agreement for China's provision of US$30 million for the construction of the Laos section of the Kunming-Bangkok highway and an agreement on bilateral economic and technical co-operation.

China also signed exchange of letters with Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, granting them preferential tariff treatment as part of the United Nations' list of least developed countries.

On the sideline of the summit, Zhu met Singapore Prime Minister Gok Chok Tong.

(China Daily November 4, 2002)

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