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Climate asia s water war  is the mekong still a river  | Upload General

Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River?

by: Marike Boonstra
asia s water war  is the mekong still a river  | Upload

Water is the reason for several imminent massive conflicts in our world. We have already paid attention to India and Pakistan's significant water conflict and the impending water war over the dam in the Nile between Egypt and Ethiopia. But the greatest threat of war over water is just around the corner: the rising hostility over the Mekong River resources. Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River?

The Mekong River: The Throbbing Lifeline Of Asia

the rising hostility over the Mekong River resources can affect millions of people through natural disasters, famine, and regional instability. This concerns China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In this article, you can read more about Asia's Water War.

The Mekong River is incredibly essential for millions of people in China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The river rises in the Tibetan Highlands of China, traverses the country, continues in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and finally flows into Vietnam: the Mekong Delta. The Mekong River is a vital lifeline for drinking water, electricity, and food. Jeremy Luedi writes in his article for Under the Radar: 'The Mekong is one of the world’s most productive inland fisheries, with an annual catch of some 2.6 million tonnes, valued at between $3.9 – 7 billion. 71% of rural Laotian households rely on subsistence fishing on the Mekong, and 1.2 million Cambodians are almost entirely dependent on Tonle Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake that connects to the mighty river'. You probably already knew that Vietnam is one of the largest rice producers globally: this position is also due to the river. The Mekong Delta, the area in southern Vietnam where the river flows into the South China Sea, helps feed millions of people and put Vietnam on the map as an essential rice exporter.

Why is Mekong important to Vietnam?
The Mekong River has a rich agricultural history in Vietnam and Asia in general. ... The Mekong Delta has been a key agricultural area in Vietnam for many years. It has been an important area for producing much of the country's food crops; even today it provides more than one-third of Vietnam's food.

Recommended: Water War Between India, Pakistan: Kashmir and Jammu

Latest Update Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River? 31-10-2019.

Experts say the Mekong river is at a ‘crisis point.’

Mekong levels at lowest on record as drought and dams strangle river. The once-mighty Mekong river has been reduced to a thin, grubby neck of water in stretches of northern Thailand record lows blamed on drought and a recently completed dam far upstream.
The $4.47 billion Thai-owned Xayaburi hydro-electric power plant went into operation this week in Laos after years of warnings over the potential impact on fish flow, sediment, and water levels river, which feeds tens of millions.

Xayaburi Hydro-Electric Dam areal view
The Thai-owned Xayaburi hydro-electric power plant

Along with parts of Thailand's north-eastern border at Loei, the kilometer-wide river has shriveled to a few dozen meters, with boulders and bedrock encasing muddy pools of water. From above, the encroaching banks of Laos and Thailand are now a thread of water apart, restricting fishing grounds to a narrow channel.

Mekong Arial view

Fishers blame a combination of this year's weak monsoon and the Xayaburi dam, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) to the north. Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River?

Mekong Water Level And Dam Crisis

"I don't want any more dam construction," said fisherman Sup Aunkaew, who tossed a meager catch into his boat, adding that the fish spawning habits have been "confused" by the unseasonal low water levels. "But we can't oppose their plans if they want to do it."

Mekong Fisherman

Asian's Water War: Mekong Water Levels At A 30 Years Low

Landlocked and impoverished Laos has set its sights on becoming "the battery of Asia," with 44 operating hydro plants and 46 more under construction, many on critical tributaries of the Mekong, according to monitor International Rivers. Along with parts of the north-eastern Thai border, the river has shriveled to a few dozen meters in width.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC), a body governing regional water diplomacy, said the water levels from June to October are the lowest in nearly 30 years. In Nong Khai, which faces Laos' capital Vientiane, the water dropped to around one meter on Tuesday 929-10-2019), several times shallower than average, the MCR said. 
Measurements across the river "are significantly below the minimum levels for this time of year and are expected to decreases further," it said in a statement to AFP.

Recommended: Water War Brewing Over New River Nile Dam: Egypt, Ethiopia

Death Of A Thousand Cuts: Concern For The Upcoming Dry Season

Experts say the dam-building frenzy in China and Laos has compounded the drought. "These are causing the Mekong to die a death of a thousand cuts," said Brian Eyler, author of "The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong." He said the lower part of the river is at a "crisis point" until rains come again next year. The Mekong sustains tens of millions of people along its banks through fishing and agriculture.

What causes a dry season?
In many tropical and subtropical regions, rainfall varies much more than temperature does. Also, because the earth tilts, the direct sun rays, and in turn, the tropical rain belt, shifts from the northern to the southern tropics. So these areas experience just two seasons: a wet season and a dry season.

CKPower built the 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi dam - a subsidiary of the Thai builder and majority shareholder CH Karnchang - which went ahead with construction despite Thailand's protests of the electricity. Experts say the dam-building frenzy in China and Laos has compounded the drought. As it began operations, the company plastered Thai newspapers with advertising this week, referring to the 'greatness of the Mekong' and calling the dam ‘fish friendly.’
It did not respond to several requests for comment, but the company has trumpeted its commitment to clean, sustainable energy.

In July 2019, the dam operator denied tests on the mega-structure and was responsible for the river drying up downstream in north-eastern Thailand.

China, The Biggest Threat For The Downstream Countries

So there is no doubt about the importance of the Mekong River for the different countries through which it flows. And where water is essential, there is also a fuss about ownership: every country complains about the Mekong River's use by their upstream neighbors. There is a reason for this because Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam have all built dams on the Mekong River to stimulate industrialization, which is, of course, significant for the countries. The more industry, the more the countries are bickering about the Mekong River. Vietnam seems to have the most reason to worry as the last country and where the Mekong River flows into the South China Sea; Vietnam also has the most cause for concern. But the country where everyone should be most concerned is China.

Recommended: China Will Make It Rain In Tibet: Space Technology

China has the most power over the Mekong River: The river rises in the Tibetan mountains. And control over the Mekong means control over the downstream countries. The Mekong River is also of great importance for China: it has accelerated China's industrialization and helps China realize its ambition for clean energy. Hydropower is one of the largest energy sources in this country - and even more hydroelectric potential can be gained. Under the Radar sorted it out and writes: 'The Upper Mekong Basin's estimated energy potential is almost 29,000 MW – more than the world’s largest power station, the Three Gorges Dam: the Lower Basin’s potential exceeds 30,000 MW'.

What is China's main source of energy?
Although China currently has the world's largest installed capacity of hydro, solar and wind power, its energy needs are so large that in 2015 renewable sources provided only 24% of its electricity generation, with most of the remainder provided by coal power plants.

Three gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric gravity dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping in Yiling District, Yichang, Hubei province, China.

Chinese Construction Projects


                                                    Dams On The Mekong Have Devastating Effects
                                             Asia’s Water War: China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam


The various dams that China has built to use the Mekong River to their advantage are of concern to the undercurrent countries. The water levels are falling, and China can store up to 28% of the Mekong's annual flow on the Chinese border. However, an even bigger problem is the major environmental problems that China and the other countries face because of the construction projects for the dams that the nations are building - just like not switching to renewable energy. The problems are piling up: Vietnam suffers from both droughts and floods: Under the Radar investigated that by 2100 it is expected that half of the Mekong Delta in this country will be submerged, which has enormous consequences for the country.

How many hydro dams are in China?
87,000 dams
China has more large dams than any other country in the world, including the world's largest – the Three Gorges Dam. Today there are more than 87,000 dams in China.

China does help Vietnam in this situation. After petitioning to release water to combat droughts, China opened the Jinghong hydroelectric power plant for a month, but the water shortage was attributed only to natural causes. "To help those countries cope with the drought, the Chinese government decided to surmount the difficulties it faces and do its utmost to help,” says foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang. That all seems reasonable, but Chinese construction projects indeed are one of the leading causes of the problems.

Recommended: Sustainable Hydro-Power Plants Contribute To Climate Change

The Mekong Delta Could Disappear

China needs sand. China has used more concrete in the last five years than the United States in the entire twentieth century. The only question is: where should the sand come from? Sand extraction along the Yangtze River is already prohibited, but illegal sand extraction is a serious problem. The enormous damage to the Yangtze is not a warning enough because certain parts of the Mekong river can still be used. The downstream countries are also concerned with unsustainable sand extraction, which only complicates the problem. Less and less sediment is reaching the end of the Mekong in Vietnam, which will ultimately mean that the Mekong Delta will disappear in the face of oceanic erosion.

sand mining yangtse
Illegal scale sand dredging, a significant threat to the ecology and navigation safety of waterways in the Yangtze

Mekong: Overlapping Organizations

The most significant danger for the most downstream countries is the Chinese uncertainty about water. As a result of population growth and industrialization, freshwater availability per person is far below the global average. If there is a threat of water shortage, China can increasingly drain water to save its population, endangering people from other countries. And these countries cannot do much about it. Under the Rader writes: 'said countries would also not have any means of recourse should China increasingly monopolize the Mekong’s water, save for international arbitration. China’s dismissive attitude towards international bodies it disagrees with – such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – effectively leaves regional organizations as the last available forum.'.

T's just that China has a lot of influence because many organizations overlap - the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism (LMCM) is heavily sponsored by the country, for example. Also, there is less American aid in Cambodia, for instance, by the Trump government, and China nowadays has more influence than Vietnam in Laos, to name a few issues.

A Hard Time For Beijing

China seems to have all the power over the Mekong River, yet Beijing is not having an easy time: local NGOs and citizens are protesting against establishing the shipping route One Belt, One Road. Operation Mekong, about the Mekong River Massacre, where thirteen crew members were brutally murdered, raised $ 173 million. All kinds of nasty events have taken place, such as the death of Chinese civilians during an alleged bomb explosion and the shooting of a Chinese worker in Laos. Something must be done to keep the peace around the Mekong River. The question is: will China intervene before it is too late?

Before you go!

Recommended: Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture, And Food

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

Like to write your article about water security?
Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected], and we will write an interesting article based on your input.

Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River?

Water is the reason for several imminent massive conflicts in our world. We have already paid attention to India and Pakistan's significant water conflict and the impending water war over the dam in the Nile between Egypt and Ethiopia. But the greatest threat of war over water is just around the corner: the rising hostility over the Mekong River resources. Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River? The Mekong River: The Throbbing Lifeline Of Asia the rising hostility over the Mekong River resources can affect millions of people through natural disasters, famine, and regional instability. This concerns China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In this article, you can read more about Asia's Water War. The Mekong River is incredibly essential for millions of people in China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The river rises in the Tibetan Highlands of China, traverses the country, continues in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and finally flows into Vietnam: the Mekong Delta. The Mekong River is a vital lifeline for drinking water, electricity, and food. Jeremy Luedi writes in his article for Under the Radar: 'The Mekong is one of the world’s most productive inland fisheries, with an annual catch of some 2.6 million tonnes, valued at between $3.9 – 7 billion. 71% of rural Laotian households rely on subsistence fishing on the Mekong, and 1.2 million Cambodians are almost entirely dependent on Tonle Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake that connects to the mighty river'. You probably already knew that Vietnam is one of the largest rice producers globally: this position is also due to the river. The Mekong Delta, the area in southern Vietnam where the river flows into the South China Sea, helps feed millions of people and put Vietnam on the map as an essential rice exporter. Why is Mekong important to Vietnam? The Mekong River has a rich agricultural history in Vietnam and Asia in general. ... The Mekong Delta has been a key agricultural area in Vietnam for many years. It has been an important area for producing much of the country's food crops; even today it provides more than one-third of Vietnam's food. Recommended:  Water War Between India, Pakistan: Kashmir and Jammu Latest Update Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River? 31-10-2019. Experts say the Mekong river is at a ‘crisis point.’ Mekong levels at lowest on record as drought and dams strangle river. The once-mighty Mekong river has been reduced to a thin, grubby neck of water in stretches of northern Thailand record lows blamed on drought and a recently completed dam far upstream. The $4.47 billion Thai-owned Xayaburi hydro-electric power plant went into operation this week in Laos after years of warnings over the potential impact on fish flow, sediment, and water levels river, which feeds tens of millions. The Thai-owned Xayaburi hydro-electric power plant Along with parts of Thailand's north-eastern border at Loei, the kilometer-wide river has shriveled to a few dozen meters, with boulders and bedrock encasing muddy pools of water. From above, the encroaching banks of Laos and Thailand are now a thread of water apart, restricting fishing grounds to a narrow channel. Fishers blame a combination of this year's weak monsoon and the Xayaburi dam, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) to the north. Asia’s Water War: Is The Mekong Still A River? Mekong Water Level And Dam Crisis "I don't want any more dam construction," said fisherman Sup Aunkaew, who tossed a meager catch into his boat, adding that the fish spawning habits have been "confused" by the unseasonal low water levels. "But we can't oppose their plans if they want to do it." Asian's Water War: Mekong Water Levels At A 30 Years Low Landlocked and impoverished Laos has set its sights on becoming "the battery of Asia," with 44 operating hydro plants and 46 more under construction, many on critical tributaries of the Mekong, according to monitor International Rivers. Along with parts of the north-eastern Thai border, the river has shriveled to a few dozen meters in width. The Mekong River Commission (MRC), a body governing regional water diplomacy, said the water levels from June to October are the lowest in nearly 30 years. In Nong Khai, which faces Laos' capital Vientiane, the water dropped to around one meter on Tuesday 929-10-2019), several times shallower than average, the MCR said.  Measurements across the river "are significantly below the minimum levels for this time of year and are expected to decreases further," it said in a statement to AFP. Recommended:  Water War Brewing Over New River Nile Dam: Egypt, Ethiopia Death Of A Thousand Cuts: Concern For The Upcoming Dry Season Experts say the dam-building frenzy in China and Laos has compounded the drought. "These are causing the Mekong to die a death of a thousand cuts," said Brian Eyler, author of "The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong." He said the lower part of the river is at a "crisis point" until rains come again next year. The Mekong sustains tens of millions of people along its banks through fishing and agriculture. What causes a dry season? In many tropical and subtropical regions, rainfall varies much more than temperature does. Also, because the earth tilts, the direct sun rays, and in turn, the tropical rain belt, shifts from the northern to the southern tropics. So these areas experience just two seasons: a wet season and a dry season. CKPower built the 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi dam - a subsidiary of the Thai builder and majority shareholder CH Karnchang - which went ahead with construction despite Thailand's protests of the electricity. Experts say the dam-building frenzy in China and Laos has compounded the drought. As it began operations, the company plastered Thai newspapers with advertising this week, referring to the 'greatness of the Mekong' and calling the dam ‘fish friendly.’ It did not respond to several requests for comment, but the company has trumpeted its commitment to clean, sustainable energy. In July 2019, the dam operator denied tests on the mega-structure and was responsible for the river drying up downstream in north-eastern Thailand. China, The Biggest Threat For The Downstream Countries So there is no doubt about the importance of the Mekong River for the different countries through which it flows. And where water is essential, there is also a fuss about ownership: every country complains about the Mekong River's use by their upstream neighbors. There is a reason for this because Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam have all built dams on the Mekong River to stimulate industrialization, which is, of course, significant for the countries. The more industry, the more the countries are bickering about the Mekong River. Vietnam seems to have the most reason to worry as the last country and where the Mekong River flows into the South China Sea; Vietnam also has the most cause for concern. But the country where everyone should be most concerned is China. Recommended:  China Will Make It Rain In Tibet: Space Technology China has the most power over the Mekong River: The river rises in the Tibetan mountains. And control over the Mekong means control over the downstream countries. The Mekong River is also of great importance for China: it has accelerated China's industrialization and helps China realize its ambition for clean energy. Hydropower is one of the largest energy sources in this country - and even more hydroelectric potential can be gained. Under the Radar sorted it out and writes: 'The Upper Mekong Basin's estimated energy potential is almost 29,000 MW – more than the world’s largest power station, the Three Gorges Dam: the Lower Basin’s potential exceeds 30,000 MW'. What is China's main source of energy? Although China currently has the world's largest installed capacity of hydro, solar and wind power, its energy needs are so large that in 2015 renewable sources provided only 24% of its electricity generation, with most of the remainder provided by coal power plants. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric gravity dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping in Yiling District, Yichang, Hubei province, China. Chinese Construction Projects {youtube}                                                     Dams On The Mekong Have Devastating Effects                                              Asia’s Water War: China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam The various dams that China has built to use the Mekong River to their advantage are of concern to the undercurrent countries. The water levels are falling, and China can store up to 28% of the Mekong's annual flow on the Chinese border. However, an even bigger problem is the major environmental problems that China and the other countries face because of the construction projects for the dams that the nations are building - just like not switching to renewable energy. The problems are piling up: Vietnam suffers from both droughts and floods: Under the Radar investigated that by 2100 it is expected that half of the Mekong Delta in this country will be submerged, which has enormous consequences for the country. How many hydro dams are in China? 87,000 dams China has more large dams than any other country in the world, including the world's largest – the Three Gorges Dam. Today there are more than 87,000 dams in China. China does help Vietnam in this situation. After petitioning to release water to combat droughts, China opened the Jinghong hydroelectric power plant for a month, but the water shortage was attributed only to natural causes. "To help those countries cope with the drought, the Chinese government decided to surmount the difficulties it faces and do its utmost to help,” says foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang. That all seems reasonable, but Chinese construction projects indeed are one of the leading causes of the problems. Recommended:  Sustainable Hydro-Power Plants Contribute To Climate Change The Mekong Delta Could Disappear China needs sand. China has used more concrete in the last five years than the United States in the entire twentieth century. The only question is: where should the sand come from? Sand extraction along the Yangtze River is already prohibited, but illegal sand extraction is a serious problem. The enormous damage to the Yangtze is not a warning enough because certain parts of the Mekong river can still be used. The downstream countries are also concerned with unsustainable sand extraction, which only complicates the problem. Less and less sediment is reaching the end of the Mekong in Vietnam, which will ultimately mean that the Mekong Delta will disappear in the face of oceanic erosion. Illegal scale sand dredging, a significant threat to the ecology and navigation safety of waterways in the Yangtze Mekong: Overlapping Organizations The most significant danger for the most downstream countries is the Chinese uncertainty about water. As a result of population growth and industrialization, freshwater availability per person is far below the global average. If there is a threat of water shortage, China can increasingly drain water to save its population, endangering people from other countries. And these countries cannot do much about it. Under the Rader writes: 'said countries would also not have any means of recourse should China increasingly monopolize the Mekong’s water, save for international arbitration. China’s dismissive attitude towards international bodies it disagrees with – such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – effectively leaves regional organizations as the last available forum.'. T's just that China has a lot of influence because many organizations overlap - the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism (LMCM) is heavily sponsored by the country, for example. Also, there is less American aid in Cambodia, for instance, by the Trump government, and China nowadays has more influence than Vietnam in Laos, to name a few issues. A Hard Time For Beijing China seems to have all the power over the Mekong River, yet Beijing is not having an easy time: local NGOs and citizens are protesting against establishing the shipping route One Belt, One Road. Operation Mekong, about the Mekong River Massacre, where thirteen crew members were brutally murdered, raised $ 173 million. All kinds of nasty events have taken place, such as the death of Chinese civilians during an alleged bomb explosion and the shooting of a Chinese worker in Laos. Something must be done to keep the peace around the Mekong River. The question is: will China intervene before it is too late? Before you go! Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture, And Food Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about water security? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to  [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
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