Asean formalises Mekong involvement with water security dialogue, as China’s dams come under scrutiny

The inaugural meeting between the bloc and the Mekong River Commission has been hailed as a means of boosting protection of the vital waterway. Asean has not previously discussed issues relating to the river at the regional level, but its fluctuating water levels have put upstream Chinese dams in the spotlight.

The inaugural meeting on water security between Asean and the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) last week has been hailed as a means of boosting protection of the vital waterway, amid claims that China’s activities have affected downstream communities that rely on the river.

Both sides agreed to cooperate on water-security challenges along the 4,350km Mekong, which starts in China – where it is known as the Lancang – and travels through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The involvement of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations
in discussions concerning the Mekong basin comes as the United States steps up scrutiny of China’s 11 hydropower dams along the Lancang, making the issue part of the widening battleground between Washington and Beijing.

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