News / Asia

    Cambodian Thanks, Caution, as China Opens Mekong Dam

    FILE - A man casts a fishing net on the Mekong riverbank in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
    FILE - A man casts a fishing net on the Mekong riverbank in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

    Farmers and development organizations say they welcome the release of water from a hydropower dam on the Mekong River in China, but warn against negative effects if too much is discharged.

    In January and February, China released 2.3 billion cubic meters of water from Jinghong power station in Yunnan province as part of efforts to ease drought and help irrigation in Lower Mekong countries. 

    The Mekong River Commission, a consortium of governments from countries along the river, praised the discharge following a two-day meeting in Vietnam, calling it "goodwill" from China.

    "I would encourage that the member countries use this extra volume of water in an appropriate and effective manner," Le Duc Trung, chairman of the Mekong River Commission’s Joint Committee, said.

    The increased flow will not only help farmers, but Cambodian fishermen as well. Phork Nimul, a fisherman in O’Svay commune, Stung Treng province, said the water would help his crops and enable fishing boats to better navigate the river, bringing in more fish to feed families.

    Some Cambodians, however, remain cautious, fearing too much of a good thing.

    Phork Sareith, chief of a fishing community in Stung Treng city’s Samaki commune, said he worries that too much water could be discharged and hurt crops. 

    "If too much water is to be released, the crops will be flooded, so it could affect the people living along the river," he said.

    Tek Vannara, director of the Phnom Penh-based NGO Forum on Cambodia, echoed that sentiment, saying that although the water could alleviate the effects of drought, especially in agricultural communities, too much water could also damage sensitive ecosystems. Stored water is already "against the natural flow" of the river, he said.

    This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Khmer Service.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Le Hung from: Hanoi, Vietnam
    March 21, 2016 2:35 AM
    Due to the shortage of water, almost all past of the southern of Vietnam in drought condition. Vietnam would like to thank China for the water released from the dam. We do hope that all related countries can use the water effectively.

    by: Zhuubaajie from: Hong Kong
    March 18, 2016 5:16 PM
    Well makeup your minds already, do you want the water or not?
    In Response

    by: Tubie
    March 19, 2016 4:06 AM
    It's simply a word-trick usually done by VOA. It doesn't matter how many "some Cambodian" are there, as long as VOA wants "some Cambodian" it will find some.

    From the phrasing we can see it: «calling it "goodwill" from China» as used by VOA. Please note that it's neither «calling it goodwill from China» nor «calling it "goodwill from China"». For our common sense the phrase «calling it goodwill from China» is clear enough that it's the Mekong River Commision, not the VOA, calling it a goodwill from China and that VOA does neither confirm nor deny this goodwill-calling. Well, VOA does not think so. It believes that it has to emphasis that it's not VOA calling that a goodwill to maintain its "neutrality", so a direct quotation should be used instead of an indirect quotation. However, the direct quotation «calling it "goodwill from China"» cannot satisfy VOA as well, as VOA want's a more ambiguous way to say it «calling it "goodwill" from China», which may mislead the mass readers think that it's the Mekong River Commision rather than the VOA used a quotation mark on goodwill and that the MRC doesn't believe it to be a real goodwill at all.

    In the United States, virtually nobody reads the VOA. Nobody in the United States would be interested in a propaganda media designed for non-US residents.

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