China’s dams over Mekong River hitting downstream nations with drought, affirm think tanks

China’s dams over Mekong River hitting downstream nations with drought, affirm think tanks

Beijing: A few think tanks have claimed that eleven Chinese dams built over the Mekong River are hitting the downstream nations with drought. Even though China has pressurised these nations before, their anti-China sentiment may intensify given the global backlash over the Coronavirus pandemic. However, China has rejected the claims.  

The Lancang River, which originates in China’s Tibet, is recognised as the Mekong River in South Asian countries. The 4,300 km long river that runs from Tibet to Vietnam is a lifeline for four nations in the region. These include Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.   

Agriculture, fishing, and generation of power in the four countries is dependent on the Mekong River although the states are facing droughts for the last two years. Last June, Vietnam was forced to announce an emergency due to the drought.   

The Stimson Center, a US think tank has alleged that China was responsible for the drought. The dams China has built choked the flow of the Mekong River, Stimson Center Director Brian Eyler said. The research and consulting company Eyes on Earth Inc released a report that stated, China had withheld water after heavy rainfall last year. The company even published satellite images of the same.  

The Mekong Community Institute and 3S Rivers Protection Network, two South Korean NGOs, have also corroborated the claims against China. ‘The agricultural crop yields are shrinking, catch from the river is reduced while domestic and other animals are dying. As a result, people living in the Mekong nations have taken severely affected,’ Liang from 3S Rivers Protection Network informed.  

The Malaysia Institute of Strategic and International Studies, a research organisation, has warned that the anti-China sentiment in the Mekong nations may intensify further due to the Coronavirus crisis. The virus has delivered economic blows to these nations angering the local populace. Given the developments, China may have to face backlash if the agriculture and fishery sectors get hit due to reduced water flow, the Malaysian analyst asserted.   

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