China is pushing new development projects for the Mekong River. The hope is to lessen the seasonal rapid waterfalls of the Mekong. By doing this China could more easily transport goods by water to countries such as Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
It is suggested that China already has plans to build eight dams along the Mekong and these are in parts of the river that are not in China.
In 2008, China made agreements with countries like Laos and Vietnam to build dams along the Mekong that are situated in those respective countries. Additionally, building more dams along the Mekong River could create more hydro-electric power, a resource that Vietnam, Thailand and China need. Potentially, creating these dams could economically be very beneficial.
There is, however, another side to the equation. We are talking about water and all countries concerned believe they are entitled to a disproportionate share.
These dams would block off some of the largest waterfalls of the Mekong, which will change the regions ecological balance. Laos’ biggest industry is its fisheries — bigger than their rice paddies, and with the waterfalls dammed this may change.
There is already a tense political situation over the water in the Mekong with bordering countries staking their claim. Whether China can upset that equation in the interests of water transport is a matter for debate.
Aguanomics says that the bottom line is that, while building dams along the Mekong River may seem economically beneficial to China and Southeast Asian countries in the short run, in the long run this development may create more problems than it solves.