Sources of many rivers begin in Tibetan plateau. 3 most important rivers are : Yangtze, Yellow & Mekong Contrary to Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, which runs only in China, Mekong River run through the territory of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the primary source of fresh water for nearly 17 million people across South East Asia. It simultaneously provides world’s 20% fresh water fish supply It also has a huge potential for electricity generation.
Hydro-electric Projects on Mekong:
With tens of millions people living near to the river today electricity has been always highly in demand. As a result dam building across Upper and lower basins of Mekong have been a popular engineering activity.
More than 200 dams have been constructed or are planned to be constructed across the southern basin in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Most of them are pretty small in scale and are constructed on the tributaries of the Mekong. Only two of them have been built across the main section of the river. This means the flow of water through the lower Mekong’s primary course is generally unrestricted and free flowing.
Ever since 1990s China has gone on building dams on all of its territory. But especially on Lancang, China has constructed 11 of them with the 12th one under construction now. A 13th one is also planned in the near future. All of these dams are constructed directly across the main course of the river. Two of these are classified as large storage dams which hold back massive amount of water.
If you want to know about China’s Stone Soup Strategy and how it benefitted China, click here.
China’s Closed Policy:
China considers water management data to be a state secret. It has always been difficult to reach defensible conclusions about China’s management water levels in the Mekong River. It shines a dramatic light on how much water China’s upstream dams have blocked-even as downstream countries suffered through unprecedented drought.
Chinese Dam constructions are causing big problem for South-East Asian Nations. Further, despite all the energy produced being clean, the dams are coming up with ever increasing environmental cost. Just a couple of years ago Cambodia had to completely shut down its largest dam due to lack of water flow leading to electricity blackouts in the country.
Additionally, due to lower water level and pressure coming from upstream, salt water from South China Sea has been intruding into Mekong river delta in Southern Vietnam This has devastated the Vietnamese farmland and depleted fishing stocks in the southern region as much as 90%.
Observers initially concluded that the abysmally low levels in the mainstream were due to low precipitation in the broad Mekong Basin. The weather pattern still today leaves most of the region suffering from its worst drought on record. But a new study from the U.S-.based climate consultant Eyes on Earth provides us with a different reason. For six months in 2019, China’s dams blocked an unprecedented amount of water from entering the lower Mekong. The amount of water withheld was so large that there was no monsoon-driven rise in water levels in Chiang Saen, Thailand.
China’s Hidden Agenda:
In meetings with the other Mekong states – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam – China talks about a “community of shared future.” But as China’s economy and its ambitions have both expanded, so have its goals for the Mekong. Control of the waterway is a key move in China’s attempt to establish itself as a regional hegemon.
2 thoughts on “Why is China Killing Asia’s 3rd Longest River, Mekong | How China is Weaponising Water ?”
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