11 Reasons the Mekong River Could Spark Asia’s First Water War
China dams the Mekong, threatening other nations’ peace and livelihood
- The Mekong River is so long that -- if it were in the US -- it would stretch from Los Angeles to New York.
- China has nearly 20% of the world’s people, but only about 6% of its fresh water.
- The Mekong River equals the South China Sea as a longer-term threat to peace and stability in the region
1. The Mekong River is a gigantic fish factory and crop irrigator. For example, half of Vietnam’s rice crop comes from the Mekong Delta.
2. It serves as an economic lifeline for tens of millions of people in five Southeast Asian countries.
3. The Mekong River is so long that — if it were in the US — it would stretch from Los Angeles to New York.
4. Just under half the Mekong River’s length is in China, which first started damming it in Yunnan more than 20 years ago.
5. China has nearly 20% of the world’s people, but only about 6% of its fresh water.
6. To move away from coal-fired power plants, China plans to build more dams.
7. The two newest Chinese dams, the Xiaowan and the Nuozhadu, can hold enough water to drown an area the size of London in water 24 meters deep.
8. Dams block fish from migrating to their spawning grounds — and their bursts of water scour riverbeds and disrupt fish breeding patterns.
9. China was one of three nations to vote against the UN’s 1997 treaty governing shared international rivers and has never negotiated management of the Mekong.
10. China is not a member of the Mekong River Commission — even though 44% of the river’s course is in China.
11. The Mekong River equals the South China Sea as a longer-term threat to peace and stability in the region.
From Troubled Waters, The mighty Mekong river is the new front line in the global battle over water (Financial Times).