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Thai Mekong People’s Network takes on China over Mekong River management



PHOTO: Airpaz Blog

Local residents and environmentalists living along the Thai banks of the Mekong River spent the weekend in hot debate with the Chinese Embassy about Beijing’s utilisation and management of the River.

While the embassy accused Thai media of spreading false information on China’s development projects in Southeast Asia’s longest rivers, the Thai Mekong People’s Network fought back, saying Beijing was exploiting the Mekong for its own benefits.

The Chinese embassy issued a statement last Friday defending China’s projects in the Mekong – known in China as Lancang – in relation to ecological protection, the blasting of rapids, hydro-power projects and the sharing of hydrological data.

Meanwhile, the group, representing people living along the river in eight Thai provinces, responded by saying the river’s resources have been destroyed and exploited by large corporations. Yet the embassy’s statement claimed China “protects the environment like we protect our eyes and treat the environment like it is our lives”.

It said under the framework of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, six countries have established the Environmental Cooperation Centre and Water Resources Cooperation Centre and “we have also actively engaged in sustainable infrastructure construction, investment and financing.

“With the aim of building a green railway, the China-Laos Railway project has synchronised environmental protection with construction at the stages of design, implementation and inspection, which is hailed by the government and people of the Laos.”

However, the people’s network countered by saying the so-called “green” aspect of the China-Laos railway project is only at the conceptual level, and that there are no concrete plans on how the destruction of natural resources, livelihoods and local economies will be alleviated.

“The project has drawn strong public criticism due to the extensive adverse impacts it is having on the people and the environment.”

As for the blasting of rapids to clear navigation routes from southern China via Myanmar and Thailand to Laos, the embassy said the project was only being studied.

Read the rest of the story HERE.


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