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Commentary: Hyping Mekong water resources issue a political farce

(Xinhua)    09:23, September 14, 2020

KUNMING, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Certain U.S. politicians have been hyping the issue of the Mekong water resources through groundless comments and unreliable reports in an attempt to sow discord between countries and sabotage the atmosphere for the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC).

David Stilwell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said earlier this month that China's "manipulation" of the Mekong River flows was an immediate challenge to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He cited a report claiming that "China has been manipulating the water flows along the Mekong for 25 years, with the greatest disruption in natural flows coinciding with major dam construction and operation."

The report, presumably a study by Eyes on Earth, alleged that China had impounded 280 billion cubic meters of water. In fact, the maximum capacity of Chinese reservoirs is just 42 billion cubic meters. A report with such an obvious deviation from facts has no scientific value and has been found to be gravely flawed by many international hydrological experts.

The LMC mechanism was launched by six countries: China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. It derives its name from a river that is called Lancang in China and Mekong in the five other countries.

"The hydropower development in the Lancang River causing drought in the lower reaches" has been the subject of speculation by media of certain countries, which politicized the issue of water resources in order to make excuses for intervening in the internal affairs of Lancang-Mekong countries.

Experts have found that since China's cascade reservoirs were put into use, dry-season flows in relevant sections have increased by 20 percent compared to past natural levels. The latest report by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) released in August also acknowledged the reservoirs' function of storing water in the flood season for later use in the dry season, which helps maintain the steady flow of the Mekong. On the whole, the hydropower facilities in China play a beneficial role for Mekong countries.

In addition, China has for 18 consecutive years been providing flood-season hydrological data free-of-charge for the MRC and lower-stream countries and has been helping them formulate plans for flood prevention and drought mitigation.

Since the LMC mechanism was launched, China has sent emergency warnings on major changes in the outflows of the Jinghong hydropower plant more than 10 times.

The Lancang-Mekong River basin has been hit by severe droughts many times in recent years. China, also affected by the droughts and facing a severe lack of rainfall in the upper reaches, has overcome the difficulties and urgently increased the outflows of the Lancang River to help Mekong countries alleviate the droughts, which are a climatic phenomenon.

Starting from 2020, China will share the Lancang River's hydrological data for the whole year with Mekong countries, according to the third LMC leaders' meeting held in late August.

Additionally, China will work with other LMC countries to establish the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Information Sharing Platform to better tackle climate change and natural disasters such as floods and droughts.

The Lancang-Mekong River closely links the futures of the six littoral countries. As long as the six countries have mutual trust, understanding and support, rise above external disturbances and focus on practical cooperation, they can properly manage the shared resources and promote common and sustainable development for the benefit of all their peoples.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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