China, Asia leaders discuss Mekong dam projects

China's Premier Li Keqiang gestures during the opening of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation forum Leaders Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River gather Wednesday in the Cambodian capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and have raised environmental concerns. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
China's Premier Li Keqiang listens on during the opening of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation forum Leaders Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River gather Wednesday in the Cambodian capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and have raised environmental concerns. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during the opening of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation forum Leaders Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River gather Wednesday in the Cambodian capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and have raised environmental concerns. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
China's Premier Li Keqiang, center, shakes hands with his counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, second from left, of Vietnam, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, left, prime minister of Thailand, Hun Sen, second from right, of Cambodia, and Thongloun Sisolith, right, of Laos, before an opening of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Leaders' Meeting, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River gather Wednesday in the Cambodian capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and have raised environmental concerns. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
China's Premier Li Keqiang, left, heads to the meeting room with his counterpart Hun Sen of Cambodia before the opening of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation forum Leaders Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River gather Wednesday in the Cambodian capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and have raised environmental concerns. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
China's Premier Li Keqiang gestures during the opening of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation forum Leaders Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River gather Wednesday in the Cambodian capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and have raised environmental concerns. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia's Mekong River met Wednesday in Cambodia's capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and raising environmental concerns.

The meeting was chaired by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who were joined by leaders from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

The leaders agreed in a joint statement to enhance connectivity between their countries to accelerate industrialization, urbanization, trade and financial integration. They also called for greater cooperation in managing and utilizing water resources.

The stated goal of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation forum, created by China in 2015, is to promote sustainable development and boost the quality of life for the millions of people living in the Mekong subregion.

Known as the Lancang in China, the Mekong River is vital to Southeast Asia, where more than 60 million people rely on it and its tributaries for food, water and transport.

The world's 12th-longest river, the Mekong runs nearly 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) from the Tibetan Plateau down into mainland Southeast Asia before emptying into the South China Sea in Vietnam. The river's basin is home to up to 1,700 fish species, making it the most diverse basin after the Amazon and Congo.

Yet the river is also another potential source of regional tensions due to an increasing number of hydroelectric projects that are altering its flow and raising concerns of ecological damage. Vietnam, already locked in conflict with Beijing over territory in the South China Sea, says it is at particular risk of adverse effects.

China is the driving force behind many of the projects, having already built eight dams on the river since the 1990s and is currently building or planning more than a dozen more. Laos is home to most of the dams planned for the river's lower stretch.

China is also seeking to have parts or the river dredged or rapids cleared so that large cargo ships can navigate it. Environmentalists have warned this could have dire consequences on the ecosystem.

In the two years since the forum's establishment, China has set aside billions of dollars to support 45 projects including water resource research centers and cooperation on connectivity projects, industrial capacity, border trade, agriculture and poverty alleviation.

The forum is seen as a rival to the Mekong River Commission, which has existed for more than 60 years but excludes China and Myanmar.

You may also interested in

Cambodia's top court orders opposition party...

Nov 16, 2017

Cambodia's Supreme Court has ordered the country's main opposition party be dissolved, in one of...

Cambodia's ruling party claims sweeping win in...

Feb 25, 2018

The ruling party of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has claimed a sweeping win in elections for...

Census finds increase in Mekong River's Irrawaddy...

Apr 23, 2018

Cambodia's government and a major conservation group say the number of critically endangered...

Cambodia parties register as Hun Sen vows vote...

Apr 30, 2018

Registration has begun for political parties contesting Cambodia's upcoming general election, with...

Bootleg liquor, not water, killed Cambodian...

May 7, 2018

A senior Cambodian health official says 14 villagers whose sudden deaths were thought to have been...

Sign up now!

About Us

VNReporter is built to serve the people of Vietnam exclusive reports that best reflect the happenings and achievements in the country. With the rise in the popularity in online news, readers now demand to read quality news in a more modern and easy to read format.

Contact us: sales[at]vnreporter.com

Subscribe Now!