China notifies Mekong River neighbours it is holding back waters


China has notified downstream neighbours it is holding back the Mekong River flow at a hydropower dam on the waterway’s upper reaches for 20 days, as part of a new data-sharing pact, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and Thailand said on Wednesday.

The statements came a day after a new U.S.-backed monitoring system said China had failed to notify downstream countries of water restrictions that started on Dec. 31.

China agreed last October to share water data with the MRC, an advisory body to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam that had long sought the information for planning.

More than 60 million people in those countries depend on the river for fishing and farming.

Thailand’s National Water Command Center said China had on Tuesday notified Thailand that its Jinghong Dam will from Jan. 5 to 24 reduce the water discharge rate from 1,904 cubic metres per second to 1,000 cubic metres per second, which amounts to a decrease of about 47%.

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