Post - Articles

China “stealing” Mekong river

  • 13 years ago (2010-08-13)
  • David Flin
Asia 864 North America 1004

Plans to build additional hydropower dams on the upper Mekong will have major impacts on Southeast Asia’s longest waterway, affecting the downstream nations of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. China has already built four hydropower dams on the upper Mekong River in Yunnan province, and plans another four.

Energy Storage & Smart Energy Tech
More info

Energy Storage & Smart Energy Tech

Richard Cronin, Head of the Southeast programme of the Stimson Centre, a US-based think tank that focuses on global security issues, said: “Unless all six countries get together and work through the issue, the likelihood is that this river will become a Chinese river.” The centre recently published a paper, the Mekong Tipping Point, that highlights the treats to human security and political stability posed by the four planned hydropower stations in China and 11 further plants on the lower Mekong.

Cronin said: “Ideally, China should stop with the four dams it has built, operate them with transparency, and the dams should not be built on the lower Mekong.” He warned that if China’s cascade of dams was built, they could halt up to 70 per cent of the silt that is normally carried by the river to the lower Mekong countries, depriving them of nutrients. Dams built on the lower Mekong would have an even greater impact on food security.

China’s upstream dams became a political issue earlier this year, when the region suffered a severe drought. Several non-governmental organisations suggested that China exacerbated the effect of the drought on the lower Mekong countries by controlling the flow of the river. China denied the accusations, and provided data that it claimed showed the intake and outflow of the dams during this period.