Chinese dams on Mekong River endanger fish stocks, livelihoods, activists say

For Pianporn Deetes, the Mekong is more than a river.

“This is not just liquid, but this is the entire life-supporting system,” Deetes, a local activist, said recently on a wooden long-tail boat heading upstream in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province.

The Mekong, one of the world’s longest waterways, runs about 2,500 miles from its source in the heights of the Tibetan Plateau. Its sinuous path takes it through six countries: China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, where it flows into the South China Sea. Tens of millions of people rely on the river, whose name is sometimes translated as the “mother of waters,” for food, water, energy and income.

Now Deetes, who calls herself a “child of the Mekong,” is battling to save the river she grew up with.

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Keir Simmons, Rhoda Kwan, Nat Sumon and Jennifer Jett