Mekong Countries Must Confront China Over Dam Impact, Experts Say Ahead of China-Led Meeting

'China holds all the cards. It has the dams upriver and it hosts the meeting,' says scholar Sophal Ear.

China’s extensive damming of the upper Mekong River has reduced water flows, threatening downstream countries Cambodia and Vietnam with environmental harm and food shortages, said experts in advance of a summit meeting of the multilateral  Mekong-Lancang Cooperation group.

The summit, to be held on Aug. 24 as a virtual meeting, will be co-chaired by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The group is widely seen as a rival to the separate four-nation Mekong River Commission (MRC) and as a forum controlled by China to promote its own interests.

Ham Oudom, a Cambodian consultant on natural resources and water governance, told RFA in an interview this week that downstream countries on the Mekong should confront China forcefully over the harm caused by China’s control over water flows on their countries’ economies and environment.

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