Thailand nixed China’s Mekong River blasting project. Will others push back?

China has had a setback in its infrastructure building along the Mekong River after Thailand cancelled a project on the vital Southeast Asian waterway. But observers say that without more coordination between downstream countries, China’s influence in the region will continue to go unchallenged.

In a win for locals and activists concerned about the ecosystem and their livelihoods, Thailand’s cabinet called off the Lancang-Mekong Navigation Channel Improvement Project – also known as the Mekong “rapids blasting” project – along its border with Laos.

Proposed back in 2000, the project aimed to blast and dredge parts of the Mekong riverbed to remove rapids so that it could be used by cargo ships, creating a link from China’s southwestern province of Yunnan to ports in Thailand, Laos and the rest of Southeast Asia.

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Laura Zhou