The Mekong region consists of six countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and China (Yunnan) which is located along the Mekong river, one of the largest rivers in the world which is approximately 4200 km, and contains abundant natural resources and great biodiversity. Not only sharing the border with one another, these countries also share a long and unforgettable history of conflict, war, cooperation, and harmony. Through my perspective, I can view the bright future of the Mekong region under many agreements and projects which have brought an ongoing development.
About 73 million of people are living along the river, and they do fishing, farming, and growing crops for daily lives. They share various languages, nationalities, ethnicity, cultures, religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and others, political systems: monarchy, republic, and communism, and economic developments which lead to an establishment of diversity in the region.
In 1992, Asian Development Bank (ADB) initiated the program called the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) arming to enhance economic as well as environmental cooperation. One of the top cooperation agendas in the GMS is energy cooperation aiming to enhance access to modern energy to all sectors. Besides, most of the countries in the Mekong region are agricultural countries, for instance, more than 80 percent of Cambodian are farmers; therefore, they trade agricultural productions with each other. This sector is a main source of employment creation and poverty reduction for all the countries. Cheap labour has known as the strength of the region, yet at the same time it is lack of skilled labour. Five among six countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN Economic Community 2015 will create an economic integration (single market) among the countries in Mekong region and others in Southeast Asia countries excluding China, which is the member of ASEAN plus one. As a result, economy will moderately increase in the future.
Despite the fact that the diverse political form, these countries also have a well cooperation. Nevertheless, it is obvious that some of the countries have border disputes between each other such as Cambodia-Thailand, Cambodia-Vietnam and Thailand-Myanmar. Having begun in 2008, the situation of Cambodia and Thailand today is still ongoing. Many soldiers have resulted dead and injured and many shelters have been devastated. Consequently, it has caused the two countries’ relations slightly damage, but the relations have been improving with the new Thai government. In Myanmar, after the reform of the new government in 2011, the political situation is well developed. The political prisoners have been released and more rights have been provided to the citizens. Another interesting scenario is the dam construction on the Mekong river which can create a conflict between the countries in the upper basin and lower basin due to the loss of benefit of the lower basin countries such as the impact on agriculture and irrigation system. In order to ensure the beneficial use of the hydro-power, I think the countries need to balance the interests.
To sum up, it is essential that we need to learn to solve the conflict together and unite with each other as one in order to bring peace and stability in the region.