Country Report on China's Participation in Greater Mekong Subregion Cooperation
Updated: 2011-12-16 20:11
I. Executive Summary
The Mekong River, which originates from the Tanggula Mountain Range on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China and runs 4880 kilometers southward through six countries, namely, China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam, is an important transnational river in Asia and even the world. The section in China is called the Lancang River. Since the 1990s, the international cooperation in the Lancang-Mekong subregion has received wide attention from the international community. Related countries and international organizations have carried out extensive cooperation, which has produced good results and forcefully facilitated economic and social development of the subregion.
In 1992, the Asian Development Bank (hereafter referred to as the "ADB") held the first ministerial meeting of the six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion in Manila, the Philippines, where the ABD is based, marking the official launch of the GMS economic cooperation mechanism. At present, GMS cooperation covers China (Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, with a total area of 2,568,600 square kilometers and a combined population of about 326 million. Rich in water, biological and mineral resources, the Greater Mekong Subregion has enormous economic potential and development prospects. The countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion all enjoy time-honored histories, beautiful landscapes and colorful ethnic cultures. Over the long years, however, they had suffered backwardness in economic and social development due to a variety of factors. Since the beginning of the new century, GMS countries have been working for economic reforms, industrial restructuring and greater openness to the outside world. Accelerated economic and social development has become their shared objective.
In November 2002, the first GMS summit was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The meeting adopted the Strategic Framework for the Next Ten Years of the GMS Program (2002-2012) and determined that the GMS summit should be held once every three years with the member countries taking turns to host the meeting. GMS cooperation was thus upgraded to the summit level and entered a new stage of comprehensive and rapid development. In July 2005, the second GMS summit was held in Kunming, China. The meeting identified the guiding principles for GMS cooperation, namely "Mutual respect, consultation on an equal footing, emphasis on practical results and gradual progress". It adopted and signed a number of cooperation initiatives and documents concerning transport and trade facilitation, protection of biodiversity and construction of information highways. GMS cooperation was thus taken to a new high. In March 2008, the third GMS summit was held in Vientiane, the Lao PDR. The meeting adopted the Vientiane Plan of Action for GMS Development 2008-2012, and signed a number of cooperation documents concerning the road map for power trade and the balanced and sustainable development of the economic corridors, bringing the cooperation to greater width and depth.
In the course of promoting GMS cooperation, the triennial GMS summit has played a crucial role in setting the targets, providing the direction, and introducing major measures for cooperation.
In nearly 20 years, thanks to the joint efforts of the ADB and all GMS members, the GMS cooperation has moved forward steadily, borne rich fruits, and played an active role in eliminating poverty and promoting the economic and social development of GMS countries. The project-oriented GMS cooperation has identified nine priority areas, namely, transportation, energy, telecommunications, the environment, agriculture, human resources development, tourism, trade facilitation and investment, and actively provided financial support and technical assistance to the member countries. By the end of 2010, GMS loans (grants) had financed 55 projects with a total investment of 13.8 billion dollars, of which 5 billion dollars was ADB loans, 4.3 billion dollars was the investment by GMS countries to match the loans, and 4.5 billion dollars was raised through co-financing. Altogether 172 technical assistance projects had received a total investment of 230 million dollars, of which 100 million dollars was ADB loans, 20 million dollars was the investment by GMS countries and 110 million dollars was raised through co-financing.
In December 2012, the fourth GMS summit will be held in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. An important agenda of the meeting is to discuss and formulate the strategic framework for GMS cooperation in the next 10 years. China stands ready to work with the other GMS countries to ensure the implementation of the various cooperation initiatives so as to take the GMS cooperation in all fields to greater width and depth, and contribute to the common development and prosperity of GMS countries.
II. Economic and Trade Relations Between China and the Other GMS Countries
Since the third GMS summit in 2008 and especially since the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, bilateral trade between China and the other GMS countries has demonstrated a momentum of greater development with a further improved trade structure and fast increase in bilateral investment. China has also participated, in the form of joint ventures or wholly Chinese-invested enterprises, in the development and construction of economic and trade cooperation zones in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, and has thus boosted local economic development.
1. Bilateral Trade and Investment with Cambodia
In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Cambodia reached 1.44 billion dollars, up by 27.4% over 2008. China's export to and import from Cambodia were 1.35 billion dollars and 90 million dollars respectively, up by 23.9% and 125.0% over 2008. In terms of commodity categories, China's main exports to Cambodia were textiles, electromechanical products, hi-tech products, garments, steel and agricultural products and its main imports from the country included natural rubber, garments, sawn timber, log and agricultural products. By the end of 2010, Cambodia had accumulatively invested 120 million dollars in China, while China accumulatively had made direct investment of 1.13 billion dollars in Cambodia.
Besides, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone in Cambodia, a joint venture of Chinese and Cambodian companies, covers a planned area of 11.08 square kilometers and houses such industries as light industry, textiles, garments, machinery, electronics and hi-tech industries. The first phase of the zone, with a planned area of one square kilometer, was completed at the end of 2008; the second phase has a planned area of 5.28 square kilometers. By August 2011, 15 enterprises had set up operations in the zone, investing 32.70 million dollars and hiring 3,535 people.
2. Bilateral Trade and Investment with the Lao PDR
In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Laos reached 1.05 billion dollars, up by 150.0% over 2008. China's export to and import from Laos were 480 million dollars and 570 million dollars respectively, up by 77.8% and 280.0% over 2008. In terms of commodity categories, China's main exports to Laos were electromechanical products, textiles, garments, hi-tech products, automobiles and motorcycles, and its main imports from the country were copper ore, rolled copper, farm produce, sawn timber and natural rubber. By the end of 2010, Laos had accumulatively invested 37.61 million dollars in China, and China's direct investment in Laos had accumulatively reached 850 million dollars.
3. Bilateral Trade and Investment with Myanmar
In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Myanmar reached 4.44 billion dollars, up by 68.8% over 2008. China's export to and import from Myanmar were 3.48 billion dollars and 9.6 million dollars respectively, up by 75.8% and 47.7% over 2008. In terms of commodity categories, China's main exports to Myanmar were textiles, hi-tech products, rolled steel, motorcycles and automobiles, and its main imports from the country included agricultural products and log. By the end of 2010, Myanmar had accumulatively invested 89.72 million dollars in China, and China's direct investment in Myanmar had amounted to 1.95 billion dollars.
4. Bilateral Trade and Investment with Thailand
In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Thailand reached 52.95 billion dollars, up by 28.4% over 2008. China's export to and import from Thailand were 19.75 billion dollars and 33.20 billion dollars respectively, up by 26.5% and 29.5% over 2008. In terms of commodity categories, China's main exports to Thailand were electromechanical products, hi-tech products, textiles and farm produce and its main imports from Thailand included electromechanical products, hi-tech products, natural rubber and farm produce. By the end of 2010, Thailand had accumulatively invested 3.29 billion dollars in China, and China's direct investment in Thailand had amounted to 1.08 billion dollars.
The Rayong Industrial Park jointly invested by Chinese and Thai companies covers a planned area of 3.5 square kilometers, including a general industrial zone, a bonded zone, a logistics zone and a commercial and residential zone. Major industries include automotive components, machinery and home appliances. By August 2011, 34 enterprises had landed in the park, with a total investment of 315 million dollars and 1,991 local employees.
5. Bilateral Trade and Investment with Vietnam
In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Vietnam reached 30.09 billion dollars, up by 54.6% over 2008. China's export to and import from Vietnam were 23.11 billion dollars and 6.98 billion dollars respectively, up by 52.8% and 60.8% over 2008. In terms of commodity categories, China's main exports to Vietnam were electromechanical products, textiles, hi-tech products, rolled steel and agricultural products, and its main imports from Vietnam included electromechanical products, coal, hi-tech products, agricultural products, textiles, crude oil and natural rubber. By the end of 2010, Vietnam had accumulatively invested 120 million dollars in China, and China's direct investment in Vietnam had amounted to 990 million dollars.
The Longjiang Industrial Park in Vietnam developed by Chinese enterprises covers a planned area of 6 square kilometers, and consists of an industrial area of 5.4 square kilometers and a residential and service area of 0.6 square kilometers. Its main industries include textiles, light industry, machinery, electronics, building materials and chemical industry. By the end of August 2011, 11 enterprises had landed in the park, with a total investment of 68.6 million dollars and 529 local employees.
III. New Progresses in Chinese Participation in GMS Cooperation
Since the third GMS summit in 2008, the Chinese Government has continued to provide financial support to GMS cooperation as its capability permits. It has taken an active part in GMS cooperation in transportation, electricity, telecommunications, environmental protection, agriculture, human resources development, health, tourism, trade facilitation and investment and drug control and achieved fruitful results.
The western line (the Kunming-Laos-Bangkok Road) of the North -South Economic Corridor was officially put in operation in 2008. The construction of the Chiang Khong-Houayxay Mekong Bridge on the road connecting Laos and Thailand, the third bridge spanning over the Mekong River, will be built with the cost equally shared by the Chinese and Thai governments. The construction started in February 2010, and is expected to be completed for operation in September 2012. Of the central line of the North- South Economic Corridor (Kunming-Hanoi-Haiphong), the 407-kilometer-long section within the Chinese borders has been upgraded into an expressway, and the Vietnamese section is currently being renovated. The border bridge across the Red River, jointly financed by the governments of China and Vietnam, was completed on 1 September 2009. The eastern line of the North-South Economic Corridor (Kunming-Nanning-Hanoi) is 1,208 kilometers in length. The Chinese section of the road has basically been upgraded into an expressway. The Vietnamese section, currently of Grade II, has been scheduled to be renovated into an expressway, and the preparatory work is already underway. The Northern Corridor (Kunming-Dali-Ruili-Myanmar) is about 820 kilometers. Since September 2010, China and Myanmar have organized a joint working team for this project and started drawing a master plan.
Through close cooperation with the other GMS countries, China acceded to The Agreement on Cross-Border Transportation of People and Goods in the GMS (CBTA for short), and completed the negotiation for and the signing of all the 17 annexes and 3 protocols of the CBTA. China and Vietnam have signed the Memorandum of Understanding Between China and Vietnam on Implementing CBTA at the Hekou-Lao Cai Border and the Memorandum of Understanding Between China and Vietnam on Including the Friendship Pass/ Huu Nghi (Vietnam) Entry-Exit Stations and the Kunming-Baise-Nanning-Friendship Pass/Huu Nghi-Lang Son-Hanoi Passage in CBTA Protocols. China and Laos have signed the Memorandum of Understanding Between China and Laos on Implementing CBTA at Mohan/Boten, and opened 13 international transportation routes between the two countries. China has reached consensus with Laos and Thailand on their transportation rights and interests on the Kunming-Bangkok road. At present, the three countries are going through their domestic legal procedures in order to realize transportation facilitation of the Kunming-Bangkok road at an early date. As for the transportation agreement between China and Myanmar, the two sides decided to hold further talks this year in China in an effort to reach consensus and sign the agreement at an early date, so as to provide institutional guarantee and convenience to the trans-border transportation between the two countries.
China has taken an active part in the cooperation on the Pan-Asia Railway. The sections of the proposed eastern, central and western lines of the Pan-Asia Railway inside China have all been incorporated into the Mid- and Long-term Plan for Railway Networks of China, and their construction is well underway. On the eastern line, the construction of the Yuxi-Mengzi Railway started in 2005 and is expected to be completed in 2012, and that of the Mengzi-Hekou Railway started in 2009, and is scheduled to be finished in 2013. On the central line, the capacity expansion project of the Kunming-Yuxi Railway kicked off in 2010, and is estimated to be completed in 2014. Feasibility study on the Yuxi-Mohan Railway is currently underway. On the western line, the capacity expansion project of the Kunming-Guangtong Railway was launched in 2007, and is scheduled to be completed in 2013. Pre-construction preparation for the expansion of the Guangtong-Dali Railway is in full swing, and the construction of the Dali-Ruili Railway started in 2008. While energetically building the various sections of the Pan-Asia Railway within its borders, China has committed itself to supporting the construction of the eastern, central and western lines of the railway in other countries. China has all along taken an active part in GMS conferences on railway cooperation to explore the plan for the Pan-Asia Railway, and urge GMS countries to speed up the construction of the missing sections of the railway so as to realize railway connectivity among GMS countries at an early date. Responding to the wishes of the other GMS countries, China has provided various forms of assistance to the construction of the railway in other countries. At its own expense, China completed the feasibility study on the missing section between Bat Deung and Snuol in Cambodia in 2010 and on the missing section between Vientiane and Mohan in Laos and the missing section between Muse and Lashio in Myanmar in 2011.
China had been dedicated to its cooperation with the other GMS countries in the field of electric power. Firstly, China has actively engaged in the various undertakings of the GMS Power Trade Coordination Committee to promote power cooperation among GMS countries. The first edition of the GMS General Plan for Power Development, which China has been advocating, was drawn up in 2008, and then revised in 2010. In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on the Road Map for Implementing the Greater Mekong Subregional Cross-border Power Trading signed by the governments of the six countries at the third GMS summit, China actively coordinated with the ADB in conducting the research on "Promotion of the Greater Mekong Subregional Power Trading and the Environmental Sustainable Development of GMS Power Infrastructure". China also provided active coordination to the ADB in making preparations for the Regional Coordination Center (RCC) for GMS Power Trading. Secondly, China has actively pursued power grid connectivity and power trading with neighboring countries and regions. In September 2004, via a 110kv power line from Hekou, Yunnan Province to Lao Cai in Vietnam, China officially began to export electricity to Vietnam. Today, China Southern Power Grid is transmitting electricity to the eight provinces in northern Vietnam via three 220kv power lines and four 110kv power lines. The grid delivered 5.53 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2010, up 24.9% over the previous year. By the end of August 2011, China had accumulatively supplied 20.9 billion kilowatt-hours of power to Vietnam. To solve the increasingly serious power shortage in northern Laos, China and Laos launched a cooperation project, under which China Southern Power Grid shall supply power to Laos through 115kv power lines. The project was put into operation in December 2009, and China Southern Power Grid has thence been supplying power to the four provinces in northern Laos. By the end of August 2011, China had accumulatively supplied 136 million kilowatt-hours of electricity to the north of Laos. In October 2008, the six 100MW generation units of Shweli River Hydropower Station, currently the largest BOT hydropower project in Myanmar, were officially connected to China Southern Power Grid and began to supply power to China. In 2010, China Southern Power Grid bought a total of 1.72 billion kilowatt-hours of power from the Shweli River and the Dapein hydropower stations in Myanmar. By the end of August 2011, China had imported a total of 4.868 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from Myanmar. In GMS power trade, China is no longer a pure electricity exporter. It has gradually become both a power exporter and a power importer. Through active promotion of optimal allocation of GMS power resources, it has effectively eased power shortage in some GMS countries and served the development of the power industry as well as economic and social progress in these countries. Thirdly, China has actively engaged in GMS cooperation in the development of power projects. As to grid projects, in June 2010, China Southern Power Grid and the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Laos signed the Memorandum of Understanding on China Southern Power Grid Company Limited's Investing in the National Power Grid of Laos. Now, the Chinese side has completed the compilation of the needed research reports for the project, including the feasibility study report, the concession pattern research report, and the project development agreement, and has officially submitted these documents to the relevant departments of the Laotian government. Upon approval of the Laotian government, China will start the development and construction of the project as soon as possible. In terms of the development of power source, a number of Chinese power companies, including China Power Investment Corporation, China Huaneng Group, China Datang Corporation, China Huadian Corporation, China Guodian Corporation, and Chongqing Three Gorges Water Conservancy and Electric Power Company, have developed some power generation projects in the other GMS countries, including the Mong Ton Project and the staged hydropower stations on the upper Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.
3. Information and Communications
The GMS Information Highway (GMS IS) Phase I project was successfully completed in March 2008, and its completion ceremony was held during the third GMS summit. Afterwards, China attended three meetings of the implementation group and the guidance group for GMS IS held in Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia, and fully exchanged views with the other GMS members on such topics as the operation and maintenance of the GMS IS, the charges for the use of cross-border sections, the construction of the second phase, and application services, thus laying a foundation for greater efficiency and operational coordination of the GMS IS.
In September 2010, China hosted a meeting of GMS senior officials in charge of information and communications in Shanghai. In June 2011, China hosted the first GMS information and communications ministerial meeting in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province. The meeting reached consensus on the text of the new memorandum of understanding on GMS IS and adopted the GMS Strategy for Information and Communications Development and the GMS Joint Ministerial Statement on Information and Communications. During the meeting, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China and the Department of Post and Telecommunication of Laos signed a memorandum of understanding on continuing with demonstration projects of applicable communications technology for rural areas.
China has played an active role in advancing GMS cooperation on food security, cross-border prevention and control of animal and plant epidemics and diseases, rural renewable energy, application of agricultural information, and exchange of agricultural technologies. Since 2008, under the China-initiated framework of "the Action Plan for Improving Comprehensive Grain Productivity", China has cooperated with the other GMS countries in developing demonstration fields for high-quality and high-yield crops, and provided training in practical agricultural technologies to local farmers. In the past 3 years, with a total investment of over 9.5 million RMB yuan, China has held 27 training sessions on various agricultural technologies for over 220 technicians. China has continued to implement the separate cooperation projects for cross-border prevention and control of animal and plant epidemics and diseases with Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos, thus strengthening GMS coordination in this regard. China invited the other GMS countries to participate in the China-ASEAN Week for Rural Renewable Energy Technology and Equipment Exhibition. It has further intensified exchanges with the other GMS countries and improved the hardware and software of the GMS Agriculture Information Network Service and enhanced its role as a platform for agricultural information exchange. China has held training courses on such topics as rural biomass energy, sustainable agricultural development, and high-yield crop-cultivating technologies. Besides, China has encouraged the relevant Chinese provinces and autonomous regions to deepen their agricultural exchange and cooperation with the other GMS countries.
Environmental cooperation is an important component of GMS cooperation, and China highly values its environmental exchange and cooperation with the other GMS countries. First, it has actively participated in and promoted the first phase of the Core Environmental Program "GMS Biodiversity Corridor Initiative (CEP-BCI) (2006-2011)". The initiative mainly aims to establish corridors for biodiversity protection in selected pilot regions and restore or preserve the connections between the existing national parks and the wildlife preserves. China has actively pushed the institutionalization of this project and the related cooperation, and designated Xishuangbanna and the Shangri-la-Deqin region in Yunnan Province as well as Jingxi in Guangxi Autonomous Region as key areas for the project. In April 2011, China successfully held the "Exhibition of GMS CEP-BCI Phase I Achievements in China" in Yunnan Province, which expanded the positive influence of the Chinese participation in the GMS environmental cooperation and the CEP-BCI effort. Second, China has taken an active part in the consideration and formulation of the framework and action plan for the second phase of CEP-BCI (2012-2016).Thanks to their joint efforts, GMS members and the ADB have basically reached consensus on the framework and action plan.
Between 2008 and 2010, China continued to implement the pilot projects of cooperative AIDS and malaria prevention and control in the China-Myanmar, China-Laos, and China-Vietnam border regions, and steadily enriched and expanded the coverage of the projects. Between September 2007 and September 2009, the project of cooperative tuberculosis prevention and control in the China-Vietnam border region was successfully carried out. In 2010, China began to implement the project of cooperative prevention and control of dengue fever in the China-Myanmar, China-Laos, and China-Vietnam border regions. The above-mentioned health cooperation projects raised public awareness of the said communicable diseases, led to the establishment of the cooperation mechanisms among the related countries for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, epidemic information sharing, and personnel training, enhanced the links among the health departments of different countries, improved the capabilities of the health staff in the border regions, and lessened the pressure brought by the cross-border transmission of epidemics.
In the past three years, China has held a number of training sessions for the other five GMS countries. Trainees include officials and experts whose duty or expertise was related to the prevention and control of malaria, the monitoring of human infection of highly pathogenic bird flu and Type A H1N1 flu, and professional project management for cross-border health cooperation. In February 2009, China hosted the second GMS public health forum in Guangxi, where the discussion centered on food and drug safety and cross-border prevention and control of infectious diseases.
In recent years, China has actively implemented the GMS Tourism Sector Strategy, and made dedicated efforts to develop and promote the subregion as an integrated tourism destination, with a focus on tourism training sessions, tourism planning and research, infrastructure enhancement, and GMS tourism projects. Such efforts have enjoyed remarkable progress.
China has further promoted border tourism and tourism facilitation measures. For instance, it conducted the trial of allowing tourists to apply at another place for a permit for the border tour in Chongzuo (Pingxiang) of Guangxi, and continuously standardized the issuance and administration of permits for border entry and exit. In 2008, the four-day tourist route between Tengchong, Yunnan and Myitkyina, Myanmar and the four-day tourist route between Jingxi, Guangxi and Cao Bang, Vietnam were introduced. China has held many rounds of talks with Vietnam about the cooperative development of the Detian Fall, and made some initial progress. China has tightened regulation over the market of overseas travel services, and urged relevant travel agencies to run their business according to regulations and provide sincere and honest services. China has also launched a campaign of sincere and honest tourist services in cooperation with the tourism departments of other GMS countries including Thailand.
8. Human Resources Development
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the cooperation on human resources development under the GMS framework. Responding to the needs of the other member countries, China has conducted cooperation and periodic exchanges with them by holding high-level seminars and training sessions for officials, and through other friendly interactions. Since 2008, China has organized three high-level seminars on human resources and social security to share experience and practices in improving the social security system and boosting human resources development and creating more jobs in the course of economic restructuring. In 2008 and 2009, through the China-ASEAN Women Training Center in Nanning, Guangxi, China trained more than 40 senior female leaders respectively for Laos and Myanmar. China provided 2.7 million RMB yuan worth of materials to women's agencies and organizations in the other GMS countries for disaster relief and women's development, and established the China-Laos and China-Thai women training centers in Laos and Thailand to provide training on applicable technologies to local women. From 2008 to 2010, China hosted an annual training program for young officials from the other GMS countries. To date, China has trained 418 young officials from Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand. China has worked with Thailand to organize three versions of the "Lancang/Mekong Youth Friendship Exchange" program, involving 199 young participants. China has enhanced cooperation and exchanges with the immigration administration agencies of the other GMS countries. It has followed to the mechanism of holding regular meetings and event-based discussions with border inspection agencies of Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, and held consultations with them on relevant issues, including the facilitation of inspection procedures, expedited customs clearance, and joint crackdown on illegal and criminal activities. China and these neighboring countries have taken proactive and effective measures to reinforce the inspection of and administration over people and means of transportation entering and exiting the border and carry out joint operations against illegal and criminal activities. Meanwhile, China has actively participated in the "Phnom Penh Plan for Development Management", and provided financial support.
9. Trade and Investment
China has actively participated in and forcefully promoted the development of the GMS economic corridors, worked hard to raise the trade facilitation level in this subregion, and encouraged the active participation of the business community. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao put forward the proposal on a "GMS Economic Corridor Forum" at the third GMS summit in March 2008, which has won the support of all the parties. In the same year, China successfully hosted the first round of the forum in Yunnan, which issued a joint ministerial statement entitled the Kunming Consensus and adopted such outcome documents as the Scope of the Functions of the GMS Economic Corridor Forum and the Strategic Plan of Action for the North-South Economic Corridor. The forum has provided an institutional guarantee to the gradual expansion of the focus of such cooperation from transportation to trade and investment to achieve real economic corridor. At the same time, it has tried to meet the needs of local governments and enterprises to take part in GMS cooperation. In June 2009, China held the GMS Economic Corridor Week in Yunnan for the purpose of promoting the logistics in the economic corridor and increasing subregional trade flow. In June 2010, China held the GMS Investment and Project Promotion Conference in Yunnan and organized interactions between Chinese enterprises and enterprises of the other GMS countries for project cooperation.
In addition, the Chinese government has earnestly implemented the Action Framework for the GMS Strategy of Facilitation of Trade and Investment. It has set up port information platforms and taken six facilitation measures including 24-hour customs clearance appointment services at all ports to increase customs clearance efficiency. It has improved the visa policy, simplified the visa procedures, and set up visa offices at the border ports in Yunnan and Guangxi, so as to provide facilitation to businessmen from the other GMS countries. In order to implement the CBTA at the designated China-Vietnam, China-Laos, and China-Laos-Thailand border ports, the General Administration of Customs of China has actively participated in the negotiations on transit customs supervision and law enforcement, thus laying a legal foundation for transportation and trade facilitation at these ports.
10. Drug Prohibition and Crop Substitution
Over the years, under the GMS Narcotic Drug Control Mechanism (MOU) and bilateral memorandums of understanding and agreements on narcotic drug control, China has engaged in multilateral and bilateral drug prohibition cooperation with the other GMS countries. Through mutual visits, annual meetings on bilateral cooperation on drug prohibition, joint law enforcement, provision of training for drug control personnel (accumulatively holding 24 sessions and training 740 persons from Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia) and assistance in kind, China has intensified cooperation with the other GMS countries in drug prohibition and made positive contribution to improving the drug abuse situation, maintaining social stability, and improving people's lives in GMS countries.
In recent years, China has vigorously pursued the strategy of "Eliminating Drug Sources from Outside the Borders", and by allowing the import of the products of crop substitution and providing special funding, encouraged and supported domestic enterprises to undertake poppy crop substitution and develop substitute industries in Myanmar and Laos. By 2010, more than 180 Chinese enterprises had engaged in poppy crop substitution in Myanmar and Laos, with an accumulative farming area of 210,000 hectares (120,000 hectares in Myanmar and 90,000 hectares in Laos) and involving 47 substitute crops, including rubber, sugar cane, rice, corn, and fruits. The crop substitution projects have created jobs for local residents, encouraged a lot of opium farmers to abandon poppy planting, and effectively elevated the living standards of local people. Chinese enterprises engaging in crop substitution have also built roads, bridges and canals in northern Myanmar and Laos, and thus contributed to the improvement of local infrastructure.
11. Science and Technology
The Chinese government has attached much importance to science and technology exchanges and cooperation under the GMS framework. For many years, in line with the multilateral and bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding between GMS countries on science and technology cooperation, and in light of the needs of various GMS countries, China has further advanced and enhanced bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the other GMS countries in this field, by jointly conducting science and technology exchange projects, holding training programs, hosting academic seminars, and donating research equipment. Since 2008, under bilateral cooperation frameworks, the Chinese science and technology authority has cooperated with its Thai and Vietnamese counterparts to support and implement 37 short-term exchange projects and 36 long-term cooperative research programs. From 2008 to 2010, China held annual science and technology training programs for the other GMS countries. A total of 368 trainees participated in 81 courses on such subjects as agriculture, resources and the environment, information technology, biomedicine, engineering and machinery manufacturing. Besides, China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has provided annual training for the science and technology administrative officials of its Vietnamese counterpart. Between 2008 and 2011, a total of 113 science and technology officials from the local and central governments of Vietnam received such training. In the past three years, the MOST has held three annual science and technology seminars of GMS countries to exchange experience in technology transfer and the formulation of science and technology polices and strategies. In 2009, China donated 500,000 RMB yuan worth of research equipment to Myanmar to support local scientific and technological development.
IV. Participation of China's Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in GMS Cooperation
Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (Guangxi for short), located in the southwest frontier of China and bordering on Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, are important gateways to Southeast Asia and South Asia, and are at the front line of China's participation in GMS cooperation. They cover an area of 637,070 square kilometers and have a combined population of 97.55 million. In 2010, Yunnan and Guangxi together realized a GDP of 1.67225 trillion RMB yuan, of which Yunnan accounted for 722.01 billion RMB yuan, up by 26.8% over 2008, and Guangxi 950.24 billion RMB yuan, up by 35.3% over 2008. In the same year, the two provinces registered a total export and import volume of 31.08 US billion dollars, up by 36.1% over 2008, of which 8.83 billion dollars were with the other GMS countries, up by 60% over 2008.
Yunnan Province has 15 ethnic minority groups who live across the border between Yunnan and the neighboring countries, and Guangxi is the autonomous region with the largest ethnic minority population in China. The two provinces enjoy ethnic harmony, amicable ties with the neighboring countries and close trade, economic and cultural ties with the other GMS countries. The other GMS countries are the key markets for Yunnan enterprises to explore and take part in international cooperation in sectors where they have competitive advantages, including hydropower, minerals, agriculture and tourism. They are also important partners for Guangxi in a series of key cooperation projects in such sectors as transportation, energy, tourism, and agriculture. The cooperation and exchanges between the two provinces and the other GMS countries in the fields of environmental protection, health, human resources development, and culture and arts have been dynamic. With a view of realizing common prosperity and affluence with its neighbors, China has always placed emphasis on the development and opening-up of its frontier regions. The 12th Five-Year Plan states clearly that Guangxi will be turned into a higher platform for China's cooperation with ASEAN, Yunnan will serve as a gateway for China's effort to open up toward the southwestern , and central Yunnan and the Beibu Bay Region of Guangxi have been listed as economic regions for priority development. These major policy measures will inject fresh vigor and vitality into the Greater Mekong Subregion, the two provinces included, and at the same time help deepen the two provinces' participation in GMS cooperation.
Thanks to the support and guidance of China's central government, the cooperative relations between the two provinces and the related regions of the other GMS countries have been deepened since the third GMS summit. The cooperation mechanisms, including "the Yunnan-Northern Laos Working Team", "the Yunnan-Northern Thai Working Team", "the Economic Consultative Conference between Yunnan and the Four Provinces and Cities of Vietnam", "the Joint Working Team of Yunnan and the Four Border Provinces of Vietnam", and "the Joint Working Committee of Guangxi and the Four Border Provinces of Vietnam", have functioned well, and cooperation in all fields has made steady progress.
Remarkable Achievement in Infrastructure Cooperation. As for roads, the two provinces have actively promoted the construction of the road network connecting GMS countries. The sections within Yunnan of the China-Laos-Thailand Road running from Kunming via Mohan and Vientiane to Bangkok, the China-Myanmar Road running from Kunming via Ruili to Rangoon, the China-Vietnam Road running from Kunming via Hekou to Hanoi, and the China-Myanmar-India Road running from Kunming via Tengchong and Myitkyina in Myanmar to Ledo in India, have all been renovated into higher-grade roads. By the end of 2010, all the roads in Guangxi leading to the Class I ports on the China-Vietnam border had been renovated into higher-grade roads. As for railways, the two provinces have been energetically pushing forward the projects of the construction of the Yuxi-Mengzi-Hekou Railway and the Dali-Ruili Railway and the expansion of the Kunming-Yuxi Railway and the Kunming-GuangTong Railway. As for shipping, the five-tier shipping lane system of the Lancang River has been built for transnational navigation along the Lancang/Mekong River, and the navigable period has been extended from previously half a year to basically the whole year. As for civil aviation, since 2008, Guangxi has opened air routes from Nanning to Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, Rangoon, Phnom Penh, and Bangkok, realizing full connectivity between the Nanning Airport and GMS countries. The New Kunming International Airport of Yunnan, to be put in use at the end of 2011, has a designed capacity of transporting 65 million person-times and 2.3 million tons of cargo a year. With this airport, the fourth national-level gateway airport after the airports of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, the capacity to reach the other GMS countries by air transportation has been enhanced. As for telecommunications, the Yunnan and Guangxi branches of the China Telecom have engaged in active cooperation with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in the deployment of international optical fiber cables, international voice services, Internet services, and cross-border call transfer services. Their services have covered all GMS countries.
Remarkable Progress in Industrial Cooperation. As for the cooperation on agriculture technology, on the basis of the two on-going projects of China-Vietnam demonstration parks for agricultural science and technology, Yunnan established similar parks in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in 2010 to apply research findings concerning rice, dry rice, soybean and potato. All the projects have shown notable effect of yield increase. Guangxi conducted a series of agricultural cooperation projects with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, and achieved sound results in sugar cane planting and processing, sisal hemp planting, new varieties of vegetables and fruits, and trial planting of hybrid maize. Meanwhile, following the instructions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Guangxi has carried out projects to demonstrate and promote the biogas technology for rural households in Cambodia. As for tourism cooperation, Yunnan has signed with Vietnam, Laos and other neighboring countries 14 agreements or memorandums of understanding on tourism cooperation, and compiled the Plan of Transnational Tourist Lines in the Golden Square Tourism Region and the Plan of Transnational Tourist Lines in the Shangri-la-Tengchong-Myitkyina Tourism Region. The province has worked with these countries to open several tourist routes, launch border tours, hold tourism festivals, invest in tourism projects, and train tourism managers. These cooperation endeavors have greatly boosted border tourism and cross-border tourism. Guangxi and three provinces of Vietnam, namely, Hanoi, Guangning and Lang Son, have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Cooperative Administration of the China-Vietnam Border Tourism, and joined hands in developing the market for tourism between northern Vietnam and southern Guangxi. In March 2011, Guangxi officially implemented the regulation by which the processing of the application by Vietnam-bound tourist groups for Chinese citizens' border passes shall be started instantly upon filing, and completed on the same day of the application.
Steady Progress in Educational Cooperation. The universities and colleges in Yunnan have established long-term stable partnerships with the neighboring countries, and continued to expand the enrolment of foreign students. By 2010, the number of the students from the other GMS countries studying in Yunnan had reached about 8,000. In cooperation with their counterparts in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, the institutions of higher learning in Yunnan and Guangxi have set up a number of Confucius institutes to step up training of Chinese-speaking talents for these neighboring countries. Since 2008, Guangxi has been sending over 100 volunteers to Thailand each year to teach Chinese. The Guangxi University for Nationalities and the Guangxi Normal University have organized a number of training courses for teachers and trained over 100 Chinese language teachers from the other GMS countries.
V. Visions for Next Stage of Chinese Participation in GMS Cooperation
China will further its cooperation with the other GMS members on road, water transportation, railway, and civil aviation. It will actively promote the construction of transportation passages and the related infrastructure in the GMS. It will speed up the renovation and improvement of the various domestic sections of the north-south passages as well as the related port facilities so as to form a road network covering all GMS countries as soon as possible. China will energetically engage in international shipping cooperation including that on the Lancang-Mekong River. It will promote the comprehensive and effective implementation of the CBTA as well as its annexes and protocols to realize convenient flow of personnel and goods among the six GMS members at an early date and boost the development of people-to-people exchange, trade and tourism in the subregion. It will speed up the construction of the domestic section of the Pan-Asia Railway, and meanwhile, take an active part in the international cooperation concerning this project to make joint efforts with the other GMS members for the project. On the basis of the Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Aviation Cooperation, China will actively explore a framework for multilateral aviation cooperation. It will also work to strengthen cooperation in human resources development and capability building in the transportation field.
In the new stage of dynamic development of power grid connectivity and power trade in the subregion, China will work with the other GMS countries to push forward the development and construction of power projects, to realize connectivity of the Chinese power grid with the power grids of the other GMS countries, and set up a GMS power trade coordination center, so as to further facilitate optimized allocation of GMS energy and resources, improve energy efficiency, and promote more efficient, low carbon, and sustainable use of energy. Such efforts will follow the strategic goals and tasks for energy cooperation defined in the Strategic Framework for the Next Ten Years of the GMS Program (2012-2022), and be based on full attention to ecological balance and environmental sustainability of the mainstream of the Mekong River. China will use its relative strength in power technology, capital and human resources as well as relatively rich experience in power planning, construction, operation and management to provide extensive support and services to the other GMS countries and make contribution to the power and economic development of GMS countries.
3. Information and Communications
China will actively facilitate the ICT development in the GMS, and continue to deepen its cooperation with the other GMS members in accordance with the agreed GMS Strategy for Information and Telecommunication Development. On the basis of the first stage of the GMS IS program, China will work with the other GMS members to carry out extensive cooperation in such fields as network operation and maintenance, pricing of the use of cross-border sections, and ICT application projects, and push forward the development of the GMS IS program. China will also conduct in-depth cooperation with the other GMS countries in such fields as rural communications development, deployment of broadband networks, new ICT cooperation, and ICT human resources development, so as to raise the overall development level of the information and communications sector in GMS countries.
China values and stands ready to deepen cooperation with the other GMS countries in such fields as food security, agricultural infrastructure, agricultural investment and trade, agricultural technological innovation, agricultural consultancy services, cross-border monitoring of animal and plant epidemics and diseases, protection of natural resources, and rural sustainable development, so as to promote the overall development of agriculture and the rural economy.
In the coming three years, China will work for the convening of the second GMS Meeting of Agricultural Ministers so that GMS countries can discuss the key areas and projects for future agricultural cooperation, reinforce international and inter-agency policy coordination, speed up the harmonization of inspection and quarantine standards for agricultural products, and further eliminate the barriers to agricultural investment and trade. It will cooperate closely with the other GMS countries to actively explore the development of an agricultural industrial belt with unique features along the economic corridor. China will encourage its major agricultural provinces to conduct agricultural cooperation with the other GMS countries, and bring into play the advantages of small- and medium-sized enterprises so as to expand the scope and lift the level of the cooperation.
Meanwhile, China will cooperate with the other GMS countries to set up cross-border monitoring stations and laboratories for the prevention and control of animal and plant epidemics and diseases, and experimental stations for high-quality crop varieties. It will step up the experiment and demonstration on high-yield crops, and raise the level of food security. It will promote the cooperation on the development and utilization of renewable energy in rural areas, encourage product and technological innovation, and push forward the implementation of a batch of key cooperation projects. China will continue to improve the agricultural information website, and bring into full play its role in facilitating agricultural trade and knowledge sharing.
In the coming three years, China will train another 300 agricultural professionals for the other GMS countries in China, and send 100 agricultural experts and technicians to these countries to provide field guidance.
Enhanced environmental cooperation is an important prerequisite for the protection of the ecological environment and the common development of GMS countries. As an active advocate and mover of GMS environmental cooperation, China will continue to pursue environmental cooperation and advance the protection of the GMS ecological environment. In light of different developmental stages of GMS countries, China will work with the other GMS members under the principle of "working together to protect Mother Earth through mutual help and coordination" to set a shining example of south-south cooperation on the environment and development. China will take an active part in the second stage of the CEP-BCI program, and seek to enrich the GMS framework for environmental cooperation. With the deepening of the GMS cooperation, China will, centering on the CEP-BCI program, carry out cooperation on ecological restoration and poverty relief, the protection of forest ecological system and biodiversity and implementation of international environmental conventions, and advance the organizational development and capability building of environmental administration agencies to promote the sustainable development of the Greater Mekong Subregion.
6. Human Resources Development
In multiple forms, at multiple levels, and through multiple channels, the Chinese government will, as always, use the existing platforms and channels to enhance cooperation and exchanges with the other GMS countries to boost human resources capability building. China will strengthen cooperation with the other GMS countries in the fields of women development and gender equality, and continue to provide training to women organizations and agencies on gender equality, women's participation in economic and social development, and capability building for women leaders. It will continue to hold training courses at Guangxi International Youth Exchange College in China for young leaders from ASEAN countries, and train about 150 young leaders for the other five GMS countries every year. It will continue to cooperate with Thailand on the "Lancang/Mekong Youth Friendship Exchange" program. The Chinese government will hold high-level seminars to discuss experience and practices of gradually raising the level of social insurance actively and prudently pursuing coordinated urban-rural development and social and economic development, and explore the model of human resources capability building under the new circumstances. China will also further intensify exchanges and cooperation with law enforcement agencies of the other GMS countries at border ports, and improve the competence of the border inspection staff in foreign language proficiency, policy familiarity, law enforcement, and inspection and administration capabilities.
China will continue to enhance health cooperation with the other GMS countries under the current cooperation mechanisms and strive to enrich such cooperation. It will continue to conduct pilot cooperation projects on AIDS and malaria prevention and control at the China-Myanmar, China-Laos, and China-Vietnam border areas, and gradually increase the geographic coverage and deepen such cooperation. China will strive for the continuous development of the projects of Dengue fever prevention and control at the China-Myanmar, China-Laos and China-Vietnam border areas. It will continue to step up its cooperation with the other GMS countries on setting up a mechanism for epidemic information exchange and sharing, and expand the cooperation to such fields as maternity and child health and chronic non-infectious diseases. China will actively participate in the work of the health subgroup of the human resources working team, step up inter-departmental and inter-regional coordination and cooperation at home, and comprehensively promote the level of health cooperation with the other GMS countries.
The Chinese government will continue to support and promote GMS cooperation on tourism on the national level, and beef up communication and coordination. It will further improve cooperation mechanisms and raise efficiency. China will step up the development of tourism infrastructure and human resources, push forward the execution of the projects led by China, actively promote GMS tourism development, cultivate an integrated GMS tourism destination, and advance GMS tourism facilitation by actively studying the possibility of a single GMS tourism visa system. The Chinese government will support and give guidance to the participation of Yunnan and Guangxi in GMS tourism cooperation and development. Yunnan will seek to do a good job in tourism cooperation with the north of Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand and the whole of Myanmar. Guangxi will accelerate the development and construction of the Pan-Beibu Bay tourism region and the China-Vietnam cooperation on the "two tourism corridors and one tourism region", and push forward the implementation of the development plan for the Weizhou Island Tourism District of Beihai City.
9. Trade and Investment
While implementating the Strategic Framework for the Next Ten Years of the GMS Program (2012-2022) and the Plan of Action for Trade and Transportation Facilitation, China will do its best to advance the development of the economic corridor together with the other GMS countries and the ADB. The Chinese government will strengthen policy coordination with the other GMS countries to promote mutual investment, and strive for practical outcomes in such key areas as port administration coordination, improvement of inspection and quarantine mechanisms, formulation of a subregional trade and logistics strategy, and enhancement of trade facilitation mechanisms of the subregion and its member countries. China will push forward the full and effective implementation of the CBTA, actively promote the development of cross-border economic cooperation areas, so as to further raise the level of trade facilitation and the ability to attract investment along the GMS economic corridor and comprehensively uplift trade and investment level of the subregion. Meanwhile, China will step up capability building by providing more training opportunities to government officials, especially law enforcement officers at border ports, sharing experience and practices in the various fields of trade facilitation with the other GMS countries, and encouraging the business community to participate in the GMS cooperation in greater depth through organizing various business exchange activities.
10. Drug Control and Crop Substitution
China will further enhance cooperation with the other GMS countries in the field of drug prohibition, crop substitution and alternative development, further improve the cooperation mechanisms, and steadily increase its support to these countries in the form of personnel training and assistance in kind. China will increase its financial and policy support for crop substitution, and press ahead with the development of the demonstration projects, so as to play a positive role in ensuring sustained, healthy and all-round development of crop substitution and reducing illegal opium planting in the subregion.
11. Science and Technology
Science and technology is an important field of the GMS cooperation. China will continue to use the existing mechanisms and channels to further enhance its science and technology exchanges and cooperation with the other GMS countries through, among other channels, science and technology cooperation projects ,training sessions and seminars. The Chinese government will support the effort of Yunnan in establishing an international technology transfer center and enhancing ability to transfer technology to the other GMS countries in such fields as clean energy, energy efficiency, health and agriculture.
The "China-ASEAN Science and Technology Partnership Program" to be started at the end of 2011 will take science and technology cooperation between China and the other GMS countries as a priority to promote and support.