China, Mekong states boost data sharing to close ‘gap of uncertainty’: ‘the Mekong shouldn’t be a place for rivalry’
Just a few years ago, real-time data exchanges on operations at the Mekong River’s major dams would have been a ‘no-go zone’, a top official saidBut China has become more ‘receptive’ to working with international partners on Mekong issues, which could lead to some ‘truly transformative’ changesChina-Asean relationsMaria SiowPublished: 9:31am, 20 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP
Such a scenario would not have been possible just years ago, said Anoulak Kittikhoun, chief executive officer of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat, in a wide-ranging interview with This Week in Asia in Hong Kong.
“All the six countries are now committed to working on this. If you talk about this three to four years ago, this is a no-go zone,” Kittikhoun said. “China is increasingly on board.”
The 4,350km river is shared by Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. In recent years, Chinese dams have been accused of causing downstream droughts along the Mekong, which supports some 70 million people. The lower Mekong’s inland capture fisheries are the largest on Earth, with the world’s third most-diverse fish population after the Amazon and Congo river basins, and a total fish catch estimated at 2.3 million tonnes – or US$11 billion – per year.