New Zealand Asia Institute

The Mekong sub-region: Economic growth and community construction

New Zealand Asia Institute research staff are involved in the ongoing research project, The Mekong sub-region - Economic growth and community construction.

Project description

All international rivers, including the Mekong, are subject to rivalries over the up-mid-down-stream water distribution for multiple uses. Given that development of the Mekong is imperative for reducing poverty and improving the living standards of local communities, it is crucial to identify constructive means toward transforming the Mekong region defined by sovereign nation states and fragmented sub-entities into a mode of coexistence and gradually reaching a strong sense of "we". Without this sense of regional belong, the six states and their constituent communities will not likely take others’ imperatives to heart, or proactively participate in joint regulatory frameworks, or adopt behaviours for upstream-downstream and lateral cooperation over the appropriation and use of their shared resources.

The purpose of this project is to:

  1. Examine whether and what constructive means for regional community building have emerged from the rapidly increasing inter-governmental and people-to-people interactions across the region.
  2. Identify positive signs of the emergence of collective understandings of "self" and "other" in each of the six countries in the region.

Partners and collaborators

  • New Zealand Asia Institute, University of Auckland
  • Souphanouvong University, Lao PDR
  • Greater Mekong Sub-region Studies Centre, Chiang Mai University

Sponsors and supporters

  • Japan Foundation
  • University of Auckland


  • Professor Nicholas Tarling, University of Auckland
  • Professor Ken Jackson, University of Auckland
  • Dr Xin Chen, University of Auckland
  • Dr Charles Johnston, Auckland University of Technology
  • Professor Khamphay Sisavanh, Souphanouvong University, Lao PDR
  • Dr Ngin Chanrith, Royal University of Phnom Penh
  • Professor Kosum Saichan, Chiang Mai University
  • Professor Ekamol Saichan, Chiang Mai University
  • Dr Tin Soe, ARDC, Myanmar
  • Dr Thai Thanh Ha, Hue University of Economics, Vietnam
  • Professor Shen Mingming, Peking University
  • Professor Yoichiro Sato, Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, USA
  • Professor Kasai Toshiyuki, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto