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China to share dam info and data with MLC nations

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Prime Minister Hun Sen said the move is symbolic of how close China and Cambodia work together. SPM

China to share dam info and data with MLC nations

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday said from this year on, China will share hydrological data and information in the Mekong-Lancang sub-region.

Li made the remarks during an online summit attended by leaders of the six Mekong-Lancang countries – Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The third Mekong-Lancang summit was held under the theme “enhancing partnership for shared prosperity”.

Li said: “Lancang-Mekong has its sources in China. Therefore, China will play an important role in laying out an open platform for the six countries in this mechanism.

“If there is a change on the situation of water level or each country has difficulty in recording water information, we are ready to provide open data and we will invite experts from each country to analyse the data. The data will be available for relevant countries to use as a reference for an effective response,” Keqiang said through a translator.

Speaking at the summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the region needed to speed up utilisation of the Mekong-Lanchang Economic Development as a new engine of growth in the sub-region.

He expressed support for China’s proposals in priority areas, including water resource cooperation, connectivity through building the Mekong-Lancang Economic Development Belt and promoting synergy with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. He also supported China’s ideas about sustainable development in agriculture, environment and public health.

Noting the achievement in the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, Hun Sen said: “The breakthrough in finding consensus in dealing with the most sensitive topic of trans-boundary water management is another success in our cooperation.”

He said a ministerial meeting of Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation held in China last December provided clear directions for strengthening and expanding cooperation on hydrological and information sharing. This tangible outcome has further contributed to the deepening mutual understanding in water resource management in the sub-region.

Hun Sen said new sources of growth in the sub-region are a must.

“Boosting investment in quality infrastructure, connectivity and industrial cooperation will stimulate more cross-border trade and further strengthen the integration of our sub-regional supply chains into the global value chain,” he said.

Since the start of the cooperation in 2016, Cambodia has embarked on 55 projects covering a broad range of practical cooperation activities which produce tangible impacts and contribute significantly to improving the wellbeing of the people, Hun Sen said.

In a joint Vientiane Declaration released after the summit, the leaders of the six countries vowed to further strengthen their cooperation on a wide range of issues. They would enhance cooperation, exchange of information and capacity building to address non-traditional security issues.

Early this month, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat released a 32-page report about the low level of water in the Lower Mekong River Basin. MRC urged the six countries to address the issue. The report said the low level of water was due to low rainfall affected by the El Nino weather phenomenon last year.

The operations of the mainstream dams in the Upper Mekong Basin and the tributary dams in the Lower Mekong Basin might have also affected the present low flow conditions. But the MRC Secretariat said they were unable to obtain official data and information to verify the potential impacts of storage operations in the upper basin.

“We call on the six Mekong countries to increase data and information sharing on their dam and water infrastructure operations in a transparent and speedy manner with the MRC. It is time to walk the walk and act in the common interest of the entire Mekong River Basin and the affected communities,” said MRC Secretariat CEO An Pich Hatda.

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