The Mekong River Commission, in a missive posted on their website on Monday, credited China’s “emergency water release” from its Mekong dams with successfully helping to alleviate the drought in the Mekong River Basin earlier this year, a claim disputed by experts.
The statement was based on an MRC report published in late October and conducted in cooperation with China’s Ministry of Water Resources.
Brian Eyler, an expert on China’s economic relationship with Southeast Asia at the Stimson Centre, agreed that the release was simply business as usual. Calling the move “perfectly crafted public relations”, Eyler said it “was not unique and undeserved of praise”.
Eyler also argued that sporadic water releases don’t do as much to alleviate drought as consistent releases, and also “do not permit farmers and downstream governments to prepare and make prudent decisions”.
Eyler also warned that China’s ability to control water releases could be problematic for the Mekong Basin in the future, noting that “every transaction with China comes at a price”.
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