How Meaningful is the New US-Mekong Partnership?

On September 11, the United States and the five lower Mekong nations launched a new framework for multilateral cooperation amid rising concerns about China’s expanding influence in mainland Southeast Asia.

In announcing the new Mekong-U.S. Partnership at a meeting in Hanoi, the U.S. State Department pledged  at least $153 million to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos for a variety of collaborative projects. These include grants for hydrological data-sharing, disaster management, and efforts to fight the region’s endemic levels of crossborder crime.

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said at the meeting that the initiative, which has built on and absorbed the preexisting U.S.-led Lower Mekong Initiative established in 2009, would “contribute to the sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region and help Mekong countries narrow the development gap, seize new opportunities and overcome challenges.”

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Sebastian Strangio