News / Asia

Kerry Returns to Vietnam's Mekong Delta

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) visits the village of Kien Vang along the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, Dec. 15, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) visits the village of Kien Vang along the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, Dec. 15, 2013.
Reuters
As John Kerry's boat winds its way along the turbid waters of the Cai Nuoc river in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, the U.S secretary of state is taken back to the time he spent here as a commander of an American patrol boat during the Vietnam War.
    
But it is not only the past that brings Kerry to this remote part of the Mekong, the 12th largest river in the world. He is here to deliver a message about the growing threat of climate change and the impact it will have on the delta and the millions of people that depend on it for food, water and transportation.
    
It is the first time that Kerry has returned to the Mekong since 1968 when he served as a young U.S. naval officer in Vietnam battling Viet Cong guerillas in a conflict that earned him three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.
    
"It is obviously amazing for me to be here today," Kerry told students gathered on the banks of the Cai Nuoc river. "Decades ago, on these very waters, I was one of many who witnessed the difficult period in our shared history," he said.
    
"Today on these waters I am bearing witness to how far our nations have come together and we are talking about the future. That is the way it ought to be," he said. "As our shared journey continues, our eyes are firmly fixed on the future and not on the past."
    
Dressed in casual khaki-green trousers, a blue-checked shirt and wearing sunglasses, Kerry is surrounded by aides and other officials on the boat but he is mostly quiet and introspective.
    
"It hasn't changed all that much," Kerry remarks at one point during the tour. The familiar smell of burning firewood in the air coming from villages takes him back to his time on the river.
    
At the small riverside community of Kien Vang, translated roughly as "the golden ant," Kerry stops to take a walk, visiting a small convenience store where he buys candy for the local children. There he pets a dog and is reminded of a mutt he adopted while serving in Vietnam he named "VC" - short for Viet Cong.
    
Here he also inquires from Dang Kieu Nhan, deputy director of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute, about water levels and how possible changes in water flows on the river will affect villagers.
    
His concern is not only the effects of climate change on the Mekong but also plans by China to build four more dams along the Mekong to generate power for its rising economy, projects that will have a disastrous downstream impact on Cambodia and Vietnam, according to environmental specialists.
    
In addition Laos is also proposing to build hydropower plants on the Mekong, while Cambodia has plants for two dams on the river.
    
Across the canal, Kerry addresses these developments in a speech to the students, while also pledging $17 million to a program to address the impact from potential climate changes.
    
"No one country has the right to deprive another country of the livelihood and eco-system and its capacity for life itself that comes with that river," Kerry says.
    
"That river is a global asset, a treasure that belongs to the region, and so it is vital that we avoid dramatic changes in the water flow and sediment levels. Already we are seeing fisheries are experiencing threats to the fish stocks as a consequence of the changes taking place," he adds.
    
Kerry says he will raise the issue when he next visits China "so that we can work together on it in an effective way."

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid