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China vows talks on Mekong dams

China has made a strong commitment for the first time to the five countries on the lower Mekong - Mynmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand - that all countries should talk together before building dams that might damage the environment or harm people living along the river.

The mekong River Commission Summit will today endorse a declaration over four issues - food security, energy and hydropower development; the climate change impact mitigation; infrastructure development; and increasing involvement of civil society stakeholders in planning activities and decision making processes.

Vice Foreign Minister, Song Tao told the two-day mekong River Commission Summit at Hua Hin, that Thailand and China had agreed that all six countries along the mekong r should confer before installing any projects along the river.

"We need to collect information from all projects whether or not it would damage the Mekong," he said.

Kasit said he believed China and Mynmar would become MRC members and further collaborate to improve the development of water management.

He added that he had consulted with China over the World Bank and Asian Development Bank becoming the new financial resource to develop the water management among the MRC's state members.

Chen Mingzhong, director-general of China's International Cooperation, Science and Technology Department, said China would continue to complete 14 dam projects to be installed in future along the river.

He believed these dams would help downstream countries mitigate the impact of drought and flooding.

Environment and Natural Resources Ministry permanent secretary Saksit Tridej said Thailand would put the drought and flooding issue into the declaration as well as the impact from haze and forest fires.

Jeremy Bird, head of the MRC secretariat, said Asean had collaborated with the MRC on sustainable development of the mekong River basin.

Bird said Asean would provide the information to help mekong countries mitigate the impact of flooding, drought, and climate change.

Asean also expected it could further collaborate with the MRC in future.

Bird said the MRC was now conducting a study to draw up models to reduce the impact from dam construction on the river.

The mekong River Commission this year celebrates its 15th anniversary and held its first summit in Thailand, hosted by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.


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