China is stepping up its charm offensive in Southeast Asia, using water diplomacy to package itself as a regional power eager to help drought-hit Mekong countries and assist smaller ASEAN countries in narrowing the development gap within the region. Mia Gomez looks at the ASEAN response to this overture in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ series.
The China-led Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) mechanism, which had its first leaders’ summit in March 2016, may sound boring but has big implications for water governance in the Mekong region, and for dividing ASEAN states in their dealings with China. In this commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ series, Johanna Son says that the Beijing-dominated forum that is far from neutral for smaller states. LMC could also undercut the ASEAN centrality the organisation so values.
Excerpts from remarks by Yang Yi, secretary-general of the Chinese Institute of International Studies, at the public forum ‘The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation: Challenges, Opportunities and Ways Forward’ on Apr. 28, 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand.