China on Thursday signed an agreement with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to share year-round data on the flow of its portion of the vital waterway amid concern that Chinese dams may be causing drought downstream in Southeast Asia.
A push for more data from China’s portion of the Mekong River – which Beijing calls the Lancang River – intensified this year after U.S. government criticism that 11 Chinese dams were “hoarding” water and hurting livelihoods downstream, an accusation Beijing denies.
“This agreement is a landmark in the history of China-MRC cooperation,” An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement on Thursday.
He added that data-sharing is critical to the management of the Mekong, on which 60 million people depend for fishing and farming in downstream countries Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Reporting by Kay Johnson; Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty