Dialogue With China Urged on Dam Projects

Mekong River Commission of­ficials are urging close relations with China following an an­nouncement that the Chinese will continue with six scheduled dam projects that could threaten countries downstream.

“We are calling for a very close dialogue between the [Mekong River Commission] and the mem­­ber countries and the up­stream country, China,” said Joern Kristensen, chief executive of the Mekong River Com­mis­sion Secretariat. Kristensen spoke Wednesday at the opening of a three-day meeting of Me­kong delegates in Phnom Penh.

The MRC and its member countries worry about what impact those dams will have on the course of the river. “What impact would that have for the people living downstream, particularly in Cambodia, where so many people depend so much on the fisheries?” Kristensen asked.

The Associated Press reported Monday that China is moving ahead with plans to build six more dams along the Mekong ri­ver in order to provide power to southwestern Chinese cities.

About half of the Mekong river lies in China. The river also runs through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before em­ptying into the South China Sea.

The MRC already has held some talks with China in hopes of finding ways to best manage the river, Kristensen said.

“Competing demands for limited water and land resources can lead to haphazard development, which is likely to exacerbate exis­ting inequities and threaten fragile ecosystems,” said Mark Rose­grant, a researcher at the Inter­national Food Policy Research Institute.

Talks will continue today and Friday. Organizers hope to finish a research plan protecting Me­kong River countries. The MRC now has a Web site that gives information on dry-season water levels along the Mekong. The site, www.mrcmekong.org, lists three-day forecasts of river levels.

 

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