Mekong Eye

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China’s Silk Road threatens the mighty Mekong River

China wants to remove rocks and sandbanks to allow ships of up to 500 tonnes to sail from its landlocked province of Yunnan to the sleepy Laotian town of Luang Prabang.

Community Leader Niwat Roikaew: At the moment we're only thinking about the economy and the earning figures without considering the unimaginable value of the eco-system to humanity. Credit: Green News TV

By Brenda Goh and Andrew R.C. Marshall

Chiang Rai, Thailand, May 5, 2017

Reuters via VN Express

China has planned to blast open more of the river for bigger cargo ships.

Dynamiting the Pi Long rapids and other sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos will harm the environment and bring trade advantages only to China, the protesters say.

“This will be the death of the Mekong,” said Niwat Roykaew, chairman of the Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group, which is campaigning against the project. “You’ll never be able to revive it.”

Niwat said blasting the Mekong will destroy fish breeding grounds, disrupt migrating birds and cause increased water flow that will erode riverside farmland.

Such opposition reflects a wider challenge to China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” project to build a modern-day Silk Road through Asia to Europe.

It added that it was not tasked with the blasting work, which would need to be tendered.Second Harbour Consultants, a subsidiary of state-owned behemoth China Communications Construction Corp (CCCC) said it was surveying the Mekong for a report that China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand would use to decide whether blasting should go ahead.

The company said in an e-mail it had held meetings with local people “to communicate, build confidence and clear doubts.”

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more at VN Express

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