Role of the US Lower Mekong Initiative in the Mekong Region

By Dr Chu Minh Thao

We’re pleased to announce the release of our latest analysis brief by Dr. Chu Minh Thao, senior research fellow at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

The Mekong region has recently become a geopolitical hotspot in the context of major power rivalry. The US has increased its engagement in the region by expanding its activities and funds and is expected to play a more active role in the future given overlapping and contested cooperation mechanisms in the region.

Role of the US Lower Mekong Initiative in the Mekong Region discusses how Mekong countries are struggling to maintain balancing policies as major power strategic competition puts them at risk of taking sides. The US launched the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) in partnership with Mekong countries under Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ to promote growth in the region. Mekong countries expect further cooperation under the LMI, though the US is otherwise occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic protests and great power competition.

This Perth USAsia Centre analysis brief examines the difficulties the Mekong countries face in considering cooperation with external powers to maximise benefit while avoiding an over-dependence on any one power.

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