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Cambodia, as a member country of groups like the Greater Mekong Subregion, plays "a major role in these regional and subregional organisations, and is therefore important in China's strategic interest", said Dr Deth Sok Udom, a Phnom Penh-based associate professor of global relations. This year's summit is co-organised by Cambodia and China.

During his official visit in Phnom Penh, both sides inked agreements for Chinese loans for electricity and roadworks in Cambodia.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc left Hà Nội on Wednesday morning for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to attend the second Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Summit.

The heads of State and Government will debate major issues to develop the Mekong sub-region, focusing on their commitment to maintaining peace, stability, sustainable development and prosperity in that geographic zone of inestimable economic and ecological values.

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At more than 45,000 kilometers long, the Mekong is the biggest river in Southeast Asia - and the most controversial.

Leaders of the six riparian countries held their first meeting in China in 2016 and the next summit is to take place in Laos in 2020.

China typically offers aid to countries without numerous prerequisites that the USA and European Union place on donations, such as improvements to human rights.

The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation was established by Beijing in 2015.

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The administration of the river is also shared among all six countries, which are committed to deepening cooperation based on three pillars: politics-security, economy and sustainable development, and society-culture and people-to-people exchange.

They applauded the 214 MLC projects proposed by the member countries and agreed to gradually expand cooperation to big projects of the subregion on the basis of maximising the MLC Special Fund and financial sources mobilised from governments, the private sector, and worldwide financial organisations. They also called for greater cooperation in managing and utilizing water resources.

Speaking at the meeting, PM Phuc affirmed Vietnam's attachment of importance and contribution to MLC over the past years. The Mekong-Lancang countries should be assisted to make use of opportunities from Industry 4.0 through sharing experience, knowledge and technology to promote industrialisation in the member nations; developing businesses and training skillful labourers; attracting resources into infrastructure development and creating conditions for projects to tap their potential and strength; providing jobs for people; enhancing cooperation in researching and transferring technology to develop agriculture, especially hi-tech organic farming. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism is pushing connectivity to a new level.

The forum is seen as a rival to the Mekong River Commission, which has existed for more than 60 years but excludes China and Myanmar.

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The action plan states that "the Mekong-Lancang is moving towards a new sub-regional cooperation mechanism" that will in part support community-building and regional integration efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which also includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.