China To Prioritize Mekong Countries for COVID-19 Vaccine

A doctor volunteer receives injection of the adenovirus vector vaccine in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, April 12, 2020. (Photo provided to Xinhua)

BEIJING (Xinhua) — China will give priority to providing COVID-19 vaccines to Mekong countries once a vaccine is developed and put into use, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Monday.

Li made the remarks when attending the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders’ meeting via video link.

China will set up special funds to promote public health under the framework of the LMC Special Fund, and continue to provide anti-epidemic materials and technical support to Mekong countries, Li said.

Stressing the significance of solidarity and cooperation to the global fight against the pandemic, Li said China is willing to work with Mekong countries to support the work of the World Health Organization. 

China also announced a series of proposals to promote Lancang-Mekong cooperation on Monday.

“Starting from this year, China will share the Lancang River’s hydrological data for the whole year with the Mekong countries,” Li said at the meeting.

He noted that China will work with other LMC countries to establish a Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Information Sharing Platform to better tackle climate change and natural disasters such as floods and droughts.

On promoting connectivity, Li proposed synergizing the LMC with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, which traverses western China and connects Southeast Asia with the Eurasian continent.

“Greater synergy between the LMC and the New Trade Corridor will make trade routes more convenient and enable the leveraging of more resources from western and southwestern China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, and thus channel more inputs to the Mekong countries,” said Li.

Regarding the ongoing global anti-pandemic efforts, Li said once developed and deployed in China, COVID-19 vaccines will be provided to Mekong countries on a priority basis.

Lancang and Mekong differ in name, but refer to the same river. It is called the Lancang River in China, while in its downstream after flowing out of China’s Yunnan Province, it is called the Mekong River, running across Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Linked by mountains and rivers, the six LMC countries feature cultural similarities, enjoy profound traditional friendship and share closely inter-connected security and development interests.

The LMC mechanism was launched in March 2016, as the first LMC leaders’ meeting was held in Sanya in south China’s Hainan Province.