China’s Role in Promoting Transboundary Resource Management in the Greater Mekong Basin

Resource and Relationship Management in the Greater Mekong Basin

What role can China play in promoting transboundary cooperation in the Greater Mekong Basin to coordinate development, strengthen water governance, and enhance environmental sustainability?

Project Title

China’s Role in Promoting Transboundary Resource Management in the Greater Mekong Basin

Transboundary cooperation to jointly manage natural resources and pursue interdependent objectives is difficult the world over. Given the 276 transboundary water basins around the world, 60 of them in Asia, this research into the Greater Mekong Basin system has significance that extends far beyond the six countries the Mekong River traverses.

Project Summary

Few of the world’s transboundary river systems are managed well, or sustainably, and the Greater Mekong Basin (GMB) is an example. Cooperation among the six countries that are home to the Mekong River—China (Yunnan province), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam—is dampened by long histories of colonialism, conquest and distrust, structural upstream-downstream effects, and nonoverlapping development trajectories resulting from wide differences in national policies and per capita incomes.

This project seeks to understand how China can work collaboratively with its neighbors in the GMB to manage the basin’s natural resources efficiently and sustainably. Organizations designed to identify relevant activities in the region have been created, but the mechanisms that will foster the necessary cooperation have yet to be developed. This project’s research focuses on the public policy dimensions of the gains and losses from collaborating, the concessions and other adjustments required, and the processes and procedures that will ensure the inter-country cooperation needed to maintain the environment throughout the Greater Mekong Basin.

Partner Affiliations in China and Vietnam

Belt and Road Research Institute, Beijing Normal University

School of Public Policy and Management, Fulbright University of Vietnam

Principal Investigator

  • A.S.

    Anthony Saich

    Daewoo Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation