The Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) on Tuesday welcomed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s pledge to share year-round hydrological data with Mekong countries.
But in a press release issued a day after the virtual Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Leaders’ summit, MRCS’ CEO An Pich Hatda also urged China to clarify what data is to be included and how it would be shared.
“To make effective use of the data for the benefit of all the Mekong countries and their peoples, it will be important to discuss exactly what the data includes and how it is to be shared,” he said.
The MRCS said China has since 2003 provided only water-level and rainfall data from two hydrological stations on the Upper Mekong mainstream – one at Jinghong and the other on a tributary at Manan. But it said the data was only shared during the flood season from June to October.
Hatda said while the MRCS supports all the Mekong countries including China and Myanmar in working together to establish a platform, he urged the MRCS’s four members in the lower reaches of the Mekong River – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam – to capitalise on its culture of collaboration and harness the existing, long-established platform.
He said the Lower Mekong Basin countries already have an operational Data and Information Sharing Platform in place. But what is missing, he said, is the same level of data and information from the Upper Mekong countries – China and Myanmar. He said China has shared limited data during the flood season.
“Any future data and information to be shared by the MRC Member Countries under the [MLC] framework should be developed in close collaboration with the MRCS so that we can connect the two platforms effectively,” he said.
He said any future platform development should not overlook the knowledge base and system that the MRC has built and promoted over the past six decades since the Mekong Committee was founded in 1957.
He said the process of establishing such a platform was complex, lengthy, costly, and more difficult to maintain.
Speaking during the third MLC summit, Li said China has directly provided flood-season hydrological data and offered timely updates on upstream flow changes to the Mekong countries.
Despite its own difficulties, he said China increased outbound water flow in the drought season to help the downstream countries mitigate droughts.
He said China was ready to provide more help for the Mekong countries to make better use of water resources.
“China will work with the [Mekong] countries to establish a Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Information Sharing Platform to help us better tackle climate change and natural disasters such as floods and droughts,” he said.