COVID-19 can fuel more anti-Chinese resentment than Mekong dams

The pandemic is likely to make life worse for Thai fishermen as well as Vietnamese and Cambodian farmers. Restrictions resulting from the virus could limit food supply. The food security of 60 million people in the lower part of the Mekong River is in danger.

The emergency triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic risks aggravating the already precarious conditions of Thai fishermen as well as Cambodian and Vietnamese farmers, who have been fighting for years against Chinese dams that have disrupted the water levels of the Mekong River.

Asia’s third longest waterway has been a source of concern for environmentalists and experts over the continuous and sudden changes in the flow of water caused by drought and upstream hydroelectric power plants.

On several occasions Thai fishermen have complained of a plunge in catches, whilst rice farmers in Cambodia and Vietnam have had to abandon their land and move to the cities because of shrinking harvests.

Alternating typhoons and prolonged droughts have compounded the problems caused by China’s 11 hydroelectric plants, five of which have been activated since 2017.

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