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China reinforces commitment to boost Mekong co-op
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China reaffirmed its commitment on Friday to continue to boost the economic cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), saying cooperation will benefit all nations in the region.

"China will further its cooperation with the other GMS members in fields such as transportation, energy, telecommunication, agriculture, environment, human resource development and tourism", said a country report issued by China prior to the third GMS summit.

China along with fellow member states Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar will attend the conference in Vientiane, Laos, on March 30 and 31.

"The other GMS countries are all friendly neighbors of China, and they and China have maintained a long tradition of friendship," said the report, which added China had always attached importance to enhancing and developing its friendly relations with other countries in the region.

GMS cooperation is project-oriented and provides financial and technological support according to the actual needs of member countries.

According to the report, a total of US$9.87 billion, a shared contribution by China and the other five countries as well as the Asian Development Bank, has been poured into 34 projects, and another 146 technological aid projects also cost a total of US$166 million.

Several model projects facilitated by China under the GMS economic cooperation framework were listed in the report, which included:

-- The Laos one-third section of the western line of the south-north economic corridor (Kunming-Laos-Bangkok Road)

-- Cooperation on the Pan-Asia Railway, and research into both the China and other sections.

-- The 110 KW power line connecting Hekou, Yunnan Province, and Lao Cai in Vietnam

-- The GMS Information Highway (GMS IS) phase I project

-- The first GMS Agriculture Ministers Meeting and the GMS Agriculture Information Network Service

-- The implementation of the Action Framework for the GMS Strategy of Facilitation of Trade and Investment, and its own country action plan

"China is planning to promote cooperation on agriculture, railways, and human resource training within the subregion at the third GMS summit," said He Yafei, Chinese assistant foreign minister, at a news briefing on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance at the summit.

According to He, the triennial meeting will have as its theme "Enhancing Competitiveness Through Greater Connectivity" and Premier Wen will deliver a keynote speech on China's views and proposals to further boost the GMS cooperation and its future development.

The GMS, established in 1992, promotes economic and social development, irrigation and cooperation within the six Mekong countries.

About 320 million people live within the GMS region, and their common link, the Mekong River, winds its way for 4,200 kilometers. The great majority of these people live in rural areas where they lead subsistence or semi-subsistence agricultural lifestyles.

The area boasts abundant natural resources and huge development potential. With a long history of cultural and economic exchanges among the nations, the area has formed peculiar cultural and economic characteristics based on different folk customs and natural landscapes of the six nations sharing the river.

The first GMS Summit was held in Cambodia's Phnom Penh in 2002, and the second in southwest China's Kunming in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2008)

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