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China Pledges to Manage Mekong River Better to Alleviate Drought

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BANGKOK – China’sForeign Minister Wang Yi, has pledged that China will help Thailand manage water in the Mekong River that it now completely controls.

China just recently released more water into the upper Mekong River to alleviate drought in Thailand.

During a bilateral meeting between Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and his Chinese counterpart, the management of Mekong River water was initially discussed.

Since then, China’s management of water on the Mekong River has been carried out for the last two weeks.

In order to contain drought and alleviate the woes of people in neighboring countries.

Minister Wang considered the matter a shared problem.

He said a problem of the Thai people was the problem of the Chinese people as well.

He said China’s Lan Chang River which becomes the Mekong River has also been affected by drought.

However, China has decided to release more water from the Lan Chang River into the Mekong River than in previous years.

China Damming the Mekong

China has built 10 dams on the upper Mekong River (known as the Lancang in China), and plans to build 21 more.

The Lancang crosses through Qinghai, Tibet and Yunnan before flowing into Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

There have been many concerns from the Lower Mekong communities on how these dams will impact their lives and livelihoods.

People have questioned whether recent sudden changes of water levels and droughts in the Lower Mekong were caused by these Lancang dams.

The operation of dams along the Mekong River is exacerbating conditions in a particularly dry year and choking off a lifeline for Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In the Lower Mekong countries of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, many are also pointing their fingers north to China and Laos for “switching off” two dams, resulting in gravely reduced flows.

China has already built 10 dams including Jinghong along the Langcang, as it calls the upper stretch of the Mekong, which it treats as a domestic river.