Asean formalises Mekong involvement with water security dialogue, as China’s dams come under scrutiny

South China Morning Post 

The inaugural meeting on water security between Asean and the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) last week has been hailed as a means of boosting protection of the vital waterway, amid claims that China’s activities have affected downstream communities that rely on the river.

Both sides agreed to cooperate on water-security challenges along the 4,350km Mekong, which starts in China – where it is known as the Lancang – and travels through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The involvement of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in discussions concerning the Mekong basin comes as the United States steps up scrutiny of China’s 11 hydropower dams along the Lancang, making the issue part of the widening battleground between Washington and Beijing.

Phonepaseuth Phouliphanh, acting chairperson of the MRC joint committee for 2021 – of which Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are members – said Asean could help the Mekong countries close the development gap by contributing technical and financial support to the sustainable development of the river and its resources.

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