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MRC-China Cooperation Extended at Regional Mekong Meeting

MRC No. 15/08
Vientiane, Lao PDR
29 August, 2008

Increased regional cooperation on water resources was the general theme of discussion as the four Member States of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, today met with representatives from the two countries upstream on the Mekong, the People’s Republic of China and Myanmar, at the13th MRC Dialogue Meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The meeting was to culminate in the signing of an extension to an agreement between the MRC and China, whereby China shares hydrological data from two water analysis stations on the Lancang-Mekong River in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

Dialogue meetings are an annual event whereby the MRC engages with its Dialogue Partners, China and Myanmar, to discuss ways of improving cooperation throughout the Mekong Basin. In addition to the agreement on hydrological data, it was also agreed at the meeting that it is crucial for the MRC and China to work together to ensure that all plans for hydropower development take river transport into consideration. The Yunnan Administration of Navigational Affairs Bureau and the MRC Navigation Programme have been discussing possible condition surveys on stretches of the river that are dangerous for navigation on the Mekong River between Houayxay and Luang Prabang in the Lao PDR. Detailed charting and aids to navigation are needed in this area, which is part of the important tourist route along the river between Chiang Rai and Luang Prabang.

The Chinese authorities and the MRC are currently jointly preparing a first seminar on waterway safety and navigation. The seminar, to be held in Yunnan in October, will bring together navigation professionals to focus on the physical aspects of navigation safety. The long-term aims are to combine the efforts of all the Mekong nations to reduce navigation accidents, increase knowledge on the significance of the environment and ecology of the river within the framework of waterborne transport, and design an action plan for mitigating the environmental and social impacts of any river regulating works.

The MRC is also preparing to carry out studies that will inform its work with the Member States and Dialogue Partners on navigation safety. These studies will include analysis of the economics of waterborne transport on the Upper Mekong, on international best practices in navigation safety, and on guidelines for navigation locks in relation to the possible development of hydropower dams. This last study will prepare guidelines for the planning, design, construction and operation of locks, and will enable the MRC to advise governments and private developers on common operation and safety rules for boats following development of dams.

China presented to the meeting technical information on the capacity of existing and planned hydropower projects on the Lancang-Mekong in China, plus some general results from environmental impact assessments and research onto the downstream impacts of the Chinese dams.

On behalf of the Chairman of the MRC Joint Committee Mr Thanade Dawasuwan, Deputy Secretary General of Thailand’s Water Resources Department, described the open and constructive dialogue of the meeting as vital to maintaining sustainable development within the nations of the Mekong. Mr Thanade said that “in this regard the MRC welcomes continuous communication and consultation with China and Myanmar”.



For more information please contact:

Aiden Glendinning, Acting Communications Officer.
MRC Secretariat,
Tel: 856 21 263 263 Ext 4703
Fax: 856 21 263 264
Mobile: (856) 20 559 9139




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