Intervention as delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand at the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Intervention as delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand at the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

วันที่นำเข้าข้อมูล 8 Dec 2023

วันที่ปรับปรุงข้อมูล 8 Dec 2023

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Intervention as delivered by
H.E. Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
at the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
7 December 2023 in Beijing, People’s Republic of China

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Your Excellency Mr. Wang Yi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China,

Your Excellency U Than Swe, Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar,

Distinguished Mekong-Lancang Colleagues,


• I am very pleased to attend the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for the first time.

• My sincere appreciation goes to China for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival in Beijing yesterday. Our deepest appreciation also goes to the Co-chairs, China and Myanmar, for the excellent preparation of the meeting.

• The Mekong sub-region is a region of immense potentials, which have yet to be fully tapped. In order to maximize its full potentials, more efforts are needed in narrowing the development gaps and promote sustained economic development among the countries in the sub-region In this regard, the role of development Partners, including China, would be highly welcomed to realize this goal.

• Since the 7th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bagan last year, the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation or MLC has progressed in many areas. The convening of this meeting is both timely and topical to take stock of the current achievements, set directions for future cooperation to respond to the fast-changing regional landscape and challenges as well as prepare for the upcoming Leaders’ Meeting.

• As the incoming Co-chair of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, Thailand looks forward to collaborating closely with other Mekong-Lancang colleagues towards the realization of a community with a shared future of peace, sustainable development and prosperity.

• Over the past 7 years, the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation has made major strides forward in the three pillars, five priority areas, and other fields - the socalled 3+5+x formula. I commend all MLC Joint Working Groups for their dedication and hard work, particularly in formulating action plans for future cooperation.

• I am pleased to learn that relevant authorities have actively implemented the directives from the 6th and 7th Mekong Foreign Ministers’ Meetings and the Mekong-Lancang countries have held workshops and meetings to promote cooperation on innovation corridor development, local government cooperation, and traditional medicines.

• It should also be noted that progress in the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation is due, in great measures, to China’s continued support to the MLC Special Fund for people-centered development projects across the Mekong sub-region. Thailand has been the beneficiary of more than 70 projects. As for this year, we look forward to implementing the 18 newly approved projects in such areas as water resources, public health, agriculture and cross-border economy, with a view to improving the well-being and quality of life of the people at large.

• The significant and steady progress made in the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation has been driven by our joint efforts and the spirit of cooperation and partnership.

Excellencies,

Distinguished Colleagues,

• Thailand looks forward to the early adoption of the new Five-year Plan of Action (2023-2027). The new Five-year Plan of Action will open up new opportunities for Mekong-Lancang Cooperation.

• In this regard, I wish to propose the concept of “Three Futures” for the future direction of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation as follows:

• First, the Mekong-Lancang countries should work together to advance the ‘Future’ of connectivity.

   o Physical connectivity is at the core of regional integration efforts. It is also a high priority area of the present Thai Government. Given its central geo-political location, Thailand is upgrading her infrastructure and investing in new megaprojects to connect the sub-region with the broader region through land, rail and sea. We place priority on the development of the Landbridge project, linking the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. Once completed, the Landbridge will help to connect the Mekong sub-region with the global market and value chain. Efforts are also underway to expedite the construction of the Thailand-China High-Speed Rail project to promote seamless connectivity with the China-Laos Railway.

   o Apart from hardware, the Mekong-Lancang sub-region should invest in software by developing the digital economy of the future through enhanced digital and data connectivity. This would serve to reinforce the overall economic connectivity, through further harmonization of rules and regulations, facilitating trade and investment, and developing cross-border special economic zones.

• Second, the Mekong-Lancang countries should strengthen collaboration and capacities to build a better “Future” by addressing new and emerging challenges.

   o Cross-border criminal activities are common challenges for all Mekong-Lancang countries and require immediate and robust concerted efforts to deal with transnational crimes, online gambling, telecom fraud and online scams for the security and safety of our countries and peoples.

   o It is imperative that we enhance our cooperation in human security by addressing water resources cooperation and to proactively tackle crossborder environmental challenges, particularly transboundary haze pollution, which affects the health and daily lives of the people, as well as food and energy security.

• Last but not least, the Mekong-Lancang Countries should join hands in driving ‘Future’ growth engines for the shared prosperity of the sub-region.

   o We should prioritize collaboration in science, technology, and innovation to accelerate green and digital transformation for sustained growth. As our Prime Minister has pledged during the UNGA High-level Week this year, Thailand is committed to scale up our efforts and enhance technology development for the attainment of SDGs and enhancement of our climate actions. Moreover, Thailand also fully supports the initiative of developing the MLC innovation corridor to boost industrial growth through the development of science and technology.

   o Greater efforts is also needed to revive tourism to pre-COVID-19 level by promoting collaboration on tourist safety and consular protection should be made with a view to restoring confidence in the safety of travel in Mekong countries.

• Looking ahead, Thailand will also seek the efforts of the Mekong countries to reinvigorate the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy or ACMECS, of which China is a development partner. In this regard, we call for closer collaboration between China and ACMECS in translating the visions in the Joint Development Plan into practical cooperation, which will add even greater momentum to the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation.

Excellencies,

Distinguished colleagues,

• In conclusion, Thailand pledges its commitment to working closely with all Mekong-Lancang colleagues to building a more connected, secure, and prosperous future of the Mekong-Lancang sub-region. Through collaborative efforts, I am fully confident that the realization of a common vision of a community with a shared future of peace and prosperity is within reach.

• Thank you.

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