Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - China’s dam plans don’t hold water with panelists

China’s dam plans don’t hold water with panelists

China’s dam plans don’t hold water with panelists

China's  dam-building ambitions and alleged lack of transparency were front and centre yesterday during a roundtable discussion on Mekong River development held in the capital.

Representatives from the Chinese embassy defended their country’s record, claiming that China was “eager to participate” in regional cooperation mechanisms.

“We aren’t dominating this river,” embassy representative Xu Daizhu said. “We want to cooperate with other countries in this region, and we want to cooperate with each other to use the water resources in this region.”

However, panelists accused the Asian power of irresponsible development.

“Chinese dams cause unprecedented social and environmental problems, causing damage to agriculture, fishery forests and ways of life,” said fellow panelist Pou Sothirak, former minister of industry, mines and energy.

China is now the top builder of dams in Cambodia, Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program Director for International Rivers, said yesterday. Currently, five large Chinese dams have been approved in the Kingdom and another four are under consideration, Trandem said, adding that four dams constructed on the Mekong in China’s Yunnan province were undertaken without consulting China’s neighbours.

During yesterday’s discussion, China’s transparency also came under assault. “The Chinese government in the past has been keeping all the information on the dams confidential,” Pou Sothirak said. “If your government would be so kind as to join the Mekong River Commission, that would be a big gift, because joining means you need to release everything openly.” Trandem supported allegations of a lack of transparency, saying that, “to date, China has failed to meet international standards of accountability, transparency and public participation”. However, Xu Daizhu upheld China’s commitment to regional cooperation. “China is willing to listen, we aren’t closing our doors and doing our own thing,” she said. “That’s why I am here and learning about your concerns.”

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished