Groups working to protect the Mekong River have called for greater transparency and cooperation from China after a report that Chinese dams held back water during a damaging drought in downstream countries last year.
China has disputed the findings of the U.S. government-funded study and said it will do its utmost to guarantee a reasonable discharge of water to the Mekong basin countries of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The study, by research and consulting company Eyes on Earth Inc., said that according to satellite data 11 Chinese dams held back water at a time when China had higher-than-average levels – while levels downstream were at their lowest in over 50 years.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental body that works with the governments of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in managing the Lower Mekong basin, said the study did not prove that the withholding of water caused the drought.
But its secretariat said it sought more information from China as well as a more formal working relationship.
“China, as an MRC dialogue partner, has provided its water level and rainfall data during flood season, from only two of its stations on the upper Mekong,” it said in response to Reuters questions.