Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit kicks off in Cambodia

Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit kicks off in Cambodia

Leaders from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand will gather in Phnom Penh for the second meeting of the

Mekong river summit

Photo: Nicolas Axelrod/WWF

Leaders from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand will gather in Phnom Penh for the second meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation group today.

Founded by China in 2015, the summit brings together six countries through which the 4350-kilometre Mekong River flows. 30 million people depend directly on the Mekong for food and jobs; fisheries along the river are worth $17 billion, which amounts to 3% of the combined economies of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

As such, China, which sits upstream, possesses considerable influence over the five downstream countries and has cemented that control by constructing dams that limit water required for downstream farming.

Today’s summit will further legitimise China’s leadership of the Mekong region. With no power to prevent China from damming its own portion of the river, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit could be the best way for the downstream countries to influence plans for the river.

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