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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Centre in China to aid Mekong management

Women travel past the planned site of the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos. International Rivers
Women travel past the planned site of the Don Sahong hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos. International Rivers

Centre in China to aid Mekong management

The governments of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to set up a centre in China where the six countries can work together to find solutions to water resource management problems, the Mekong River Commission said in a statement released yesterday.

The statement said the agreement was reached on March 23 during the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Sanya.

The Chinese centre would be used to discuss water use issues, research drought and flood management, and share data, it said.

“The new framework would present a new opportunity for the MRC to strengthen ties with China and Myanmar, and we believe that we could and are ready to contribute to the new regional cooperation in water resource management with our 20 years of experience in that field,” Pham Tuan Phan, chief executive of the MRC Secretariat, said in the statement.

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Don Rennie's picture

Dear Igor,

No one can argue about the significant problems presented by managing the Mekong River.

The Mekong Agreement goes back 20 years. The member countries of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) are Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

The MRC does not have a legally binding treaty or document with any member or non-member country. This new Center will include the member countries of the MRC plus China and Myanmar.

Anyone who can read a map already knows that China controls the Mekong River's water resource. I believe there are five Chinese dams on the Mekong River. Laos and Cambodia have proposed an additional eleven dams, as of May 2015.

In 2010 an environmental assessment sponsored by the MRC called for a ten-year moratorium on construction of main-stem dams. Nothing happened.

Thailand currently has a severe drought crisis. Cambodia is developing into a drought crisis.

The big question is this: Why was China left out of the Mekong River management scene for 20 years, until now? The answer seems clear. The MRC has been asleep at the wheel while driving, forward or reverse, for 20 years.

This commission spends millions of dollars each year to justify its own existence and does nothing to mitigate problems. The commission does not solve problems. It only talks about problems and offers lip service. It is powerless.

In short, nobody listens to the MRC.

Without a legally binding document between the six countries who share the Mekong River water moving through China and ending in Vietnam, the MRC should should close their office. They are wasting money.

DR

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