The Politics of Chinese Hydropower Development in Southeast Asia

China leads the world in the generation of hydropower, which it has
prioritized as the “renewable” alternative to coal and other carbon based
sources. China’s plans to develop large-scale hydroelectric dam projects on transboundary
rivers continue to attract controversy. Dams to harness the power of the Upper
Mekong and Upper Salween rivers, in particular, have been framed as unilateral
Chinese development schemes that ignore the concerns of downstream countries.
The absence of careful, transparent, deliberative, and evidence-based decision
making on such projects both in China as well as the downstream Southeast Asian
countries have created serious negative ecological, sociological and food
security impacts that are still playing out. Speakers included:
Darrin Magee, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies,
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who discussed southwestern hydropower
development against China’s larger energy situation and goals, and sketched out
the decision-making processes that facilitate that development.

Yun Sun, a fellow with Stimson’s East Asia Program, who commented on China’s involvement in controversial projects such as the Myitsone
Dam on Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River from the perspective of China’s need for
electric power and its complex relationship with the new political landscape in
Richard Cronin, Director of Stimson’s Southeast Asia Program
who discussed the interplay of China’s Upper Mekong dams with up to eleven
controversial dams under development or planned for the Lao, Lao-Thai and
Cambodian stretches of the Lower Mekong.

Here’s the full event:

For more information contact Zach Dubel at [email protected] or 202-478-3425



Part of the Mekong Policy Project  and the Mekong Basin Connect Project .
Southeast Asia
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