Home / Articles / The Lower Mekong Initiative & U.S. Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia: Energy, Environment & Power
Begun in 2009, the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) is now America’s foremost engagement vehicle on the Indochina peninsula of Southeast Asia. From the outset, its most concrete aim was to facilitate an integrated water management scheme for the lower Mekong River, where plans to harness the river’s hydroelectric potential as a catalyst for economic development have clashed with more traditional uses of the river. But more broadly, the LMI also serves a larger American goal: to encourage regional cohesion and thereby slow the spread of Chinese influence. Whether the LMI achieves these aims largely depends on how successful its member countries— including the United States and all of Southeast Asia’s riparian countries—are in putting to rest the differences over how best to balance the various uses of the Mekong River.