China starts water diplomacy for Mekong countries

Saturday, 19 March, 2016 - 19:45

China has embarked on an unprecedented “water diplomacy” mission to alleviate the ongoing drought in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam by discharging massive quantities of fresh water downstream from one of its dams in its southern region.

The emergency water supply from the Chinese Jinghong hydropower station will last one month from March 15 until April 10, marking the first time China has informed downstream countries in advance of its water-discharge schedule, said Nuanla-or Wongpinitwarodom, director of the Mekong River resources management office at the department of water resources.

China had sent letters to all four member-countries of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its water-discharge plan to help ease the shortage of fresh water in downstream countries. The MRC consists of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, while China and Myanmar are dialogue partners.

China has never before informed MRC countries of its water resource management plan, she said, adding Chinese authorities also had expressed an intention to work more closely with downstream countries to solve their problems.

China also assigned its diplomats in those countries to inform each government of the water discharge.