Thailand Stresses Fair Use of Water in Mekong Summit
HAINAN – In his opening speech at the first Mekong-Lancang Cooperation meeting in Sanya, Hainan province in China, Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand stressed the need for “constructive” cooperation among Mekong nations. Creating a water-management plan that benefits all countries should be a challenge for the inaugural summit, he added.
Gen Prayut called for the quick establishment of a centre for countries using the Mekong to cooperate and share information on water management.
The prime minister co-chaired the meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The summit, which also brings together leaders from Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, ends on Thursday. The Mekong is called Lancang in Chinese.
China created problems with countries on the lower Mekong after it built dams along the river. China has insisted that it is not an international river as it does not border other countries as it flows into the country, That has been justification for the country’s at-will control of water flow. Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam meanwhile treat the Mekong as an international waterway.
Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are members of the Mekong River Commission and their management of the water resources of the river needs approval from all commission members.
With downstream countries battling drought, China is releasing water from the Jinghong dam until April 10 to ease the crisis.
Mr Li said at the meeting that the new forum will foster ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The summit “comes as a natural result of our existing cooperation, and will take full advantage of our close geographic proximity, traditional friendship and complementary economies,” the Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Li said China will offer US$11.5 billion in loans and credit lines to the leaders of the five countries.
By Itiporn Lakarnchua