China’s ‘Development Approach’ to the Mekong Water Disputes

Even as COVID-19 is wreaking havoc and uncertainty around the globe, Vietnam’s Mekong Delta declared an emergency over the devastating drought in early March. Studies suggest that the frequency and severity of droughts in the Mekong region has increased in the past decades, and many blame upstream dams, particularly those in China, for exacerbating the droughts. For years China has been criticized for refusing to join the Mekong River Commission (MRC) while unilaterally building dams upstream on the Mekong River (called the Lancang in China). Such hydro projects have become one of the key triggers for water conflicts between China and other Mekong basin states.

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Zhang Hongzhou