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US claims about China's 'manipulation' of the Mekong River flows debunked

fmprc.gov.cn | Updated: 2020-09-24 13:47
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A view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, Oct 29, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Rumor: US Assistant Secretary David Stilwell said recently that one especially urgent challenge to ASEAN is China's manipulation of the Mekong River flows for its own profit at great cost to downstream nations. He cited a report claiming that "China has been manipulating the water flows along the Mekong for 25 years, with the greatest disruption in natural flows coinciding with major dam construction and operation".

Fact:

The Lancang-Mekong River flows through six countries -- China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is called the Lancang River in China, while in its downstream after flowing out of China's Yunnan province, it is called the Mekong River.

Since last year, the US has been hyping up the issue of Mekong water resources in an attempt to create a hotspot, sow discord between regional countries, and sabotage the atmosphere for Lancang-Mekong cooperation. This is nothing new, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a news briefing. Zhao debunked the claims with the following facts and figures:

Experts have found that after China's cascade reservoirs were put into use, dry-season flows of relevant sections increased by 20 percent compared to past natural levels. The latest report by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) released in August also acknowledged the reservoirs' function to store water in the flood season for later use in the dry season, which helps maintain the steady flow of the Mekong. On the whole, the hydro-power facilities in China play a beneficial role for Mekong countries.

In addition, for 18 years in a row, China has been providing flood-season hydrological data for free to the MRC and lower-stream countries and helping them formulate plans for flood prevention and drought mitigation. Since the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism was launched, China has sent emergency notifications on major changes in outflow of Jinghong hydro-power plant more than 10 times. At the third LMC leaders' meeting held in August, Premier Li Keqiang announced China will share with the Mekong River countries the annual hydrological information of the Lancang River, which will further elevate cooperation in this regard.

The report cited by the US side is presumably the study by Eyes on Earth. It alleged that China had impounded 280 billion cubic meters of water. As a matter of fact, the maximum capacity of Chinese reservoirs is only 42 billion cubic meters. A report with such obvious deviation from facts has no scientific value. It has been found to be gravely flawed by many international hydrological experts.

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