In envisioning an integrated Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the governments of the six riparian countries and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) regard the “connecting of nations” as contributing to the “linking of people” and vice-versa.Strategy papers and other programme documents reiterate that the goals of regionalisation are not only to enhance “connectivity” and “competitiveness” of the region through the improvement of transportation, telecommunication and power systems, but also to foster a greater “sense of community”.What the creation of a “community” implies for the diverse Mekong peoples is, however, not fully articulated. From these materials, it would seem that the concept refers to enhancing social welfare: by increasing incomes and by preventing disease, degradation of environment, human and drugs trafficking and other social problems, the programme strives to improve quality of life for the inhabitants of the GMS and bring them closer together. Policy documents and policymakers’ declarations also hint that collaboration is to foster mutual respect and understanding among diverse groups and countries, and create peace and stability in the region.

– Extracted from Rosalia Sciortino, “Creating a Mekong Community”, Mekong Currents, January 2008. New Mandala denizens with interests in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and the diverse machinery that is being used to promote certain “community” agendas will find that Sciortino’s full article is worth a read.