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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Mekong’ Category

China dam plans raise Mekong fears

Posted by Author on April 1, 2010

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing and Tim Johnston in Bangkok, The Financial Times, Apr. 1, 2010-

China will ramp up construction of dams, reservoirs and wells in response to a severe drought in the country’s south-west, but the move is likely to raise tensions with downstream countries, which have already blamed reduced river flows on Beijing.

Most of south-west China has been affected by the drought, which began in November and has left more than 24m people without adequate access to drinking water. Downstream in Thailand, cargo boats have been stranded along the banks of the Mekong, which is at its lowest level in half a century, while fishermen complain of empty nets.

Beijing has launched emergency drought relief operations involving 260,000 soldiers and officials yesterday said this force had drilled 18,000 wells, built 4,307 emergency water diversion works and laid 20,000 kilometres of pipeline.

“We must prepare ourselves to fight a long war against this severe drought,” said Liu Ning, secretary-general of China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. “With so many government departments working in synergy, we will surely triumph in our battle,” he said, while forecasting the drought would last until mid-May.

The south-western province of Yunnan, which has been hit hardest by the drought, has allocated Rmb27bn ($4bn, €2.9bn, £2.6bn) to build reservoirs and dams, officials said.

China’s water management policies have come in for criticism from the countries of the Mekong basin, where 60m people are directly or indirectly dependent on the river.

“We can see the level of the water is getting lower,” Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, said this month. “We will ask the foreign ministry to talk with a representative from China in terms of co-operation and in terms of management systems in the region.”

The Mekong River Commission, which includes Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, will meet this weekend to discuss the water shortage and future developments along the river……. (Financial Times)

Posted in Asia, China, dam, Environment, Life, Mekong, News, River, SW China, World, Yunnan | Comments Off on China dam plans raise Mekong fears

3 of World Top 10 Drying Out Rivers Are in China

Posted by Author on March 20, 2007

In a newly released report, The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), the global conservation organization, listed 3 major China rivers are drying out and are threatening severe water shortages. The 3 rivers are the Yangtze (known as Chang Jiang in China), Mekong (known as Lan Cang Jiang in China), Salween (known as Nu Niang in China). Here’s the news release:

Gland, Switzerland, 20 Mar 2007– Rivers on every continent are drying out, threatening severe water shortages, according to a new WWF report.

The report, World’s Top Rivers at Risk (in PDF), released ahead of World Water Day (22 March), lists the top ten rivers that are fast dying as a result of climate change, pollution and dams.

“All the rivers in the report symbolize the current freshwater crisis, which we have been signalling for years,” says WWF Global Freshwater Programme Director Jamie Pittock.

“Poor planning and inadequate protection of natural areas mean we can no longer assume that water will flow forever. Like the climate change crisis, which now has the attention of business and government, we want leaders to take notice of the emergency facing freshwater now not later.”

Five of the ten rivers listed in the report are in Asia alone. They are the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus. Europe’s Danube, the Americas’ La Plata and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africa’s Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia’s Murray-Darling also make the list.

Dams along the Danube River — one of the longest flowing rivers in Europe — have already destroyed 80 per cent of the river basin’s wetlands and floodplains. Even without warmer temperatures threatening to melt Himalayan glaciers, the Indus River faces scarcity due to over-extraction for agriculture. Fish populations, the main source of protein and overall life support systems for hundreds of thousands of communities worldwide, are also being threatened.

The report calls on governments to better protect river flows and water allocations in order to safeguard habitats and people’s livelihoods.

“Conservation of rivers and wetlands must be seen as part and parcel of national security, health and economic success,” Pittock adds. “Emphasis must be given to exploring ways of using water for crops and products that do not use more water than necessary.”

In addition, cooperative agreements for managing shared resources, such as the UN Watercourses Convention, must be ratified and given the resources to make them work, says WWF.

“The freshwater crisis is bigger than the ten rivers listed in this report but it mirrors the extent to which unabated development is jeopardizing nature’s ability to meet our growing demands,” says Pittock. “We must change our mindset now or pay the price in the not so distant future.”

Posted in Asia, China, Environment, Life, Mekong, News, River, Social, World, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

China Secret Deal of Shipping Oil Up the Mekong River Raising Concerns

Posted by Author on January 21, 2007

By Marwaan Macan-Markar, Japan Focus, January 20, 2007-

BANGKOK – Energy-hungry China has started to use the Mekong River (map below) as a newMekong River oil-shipping route, raising new environmental concerns that accidental spills could adversely affect the livelihoods of nearly 60 million downstream river dwellers and eventually evolve into a bone of diplomatic contention between Southeast Asian countries and China.

The maiden journey on December 29 of two Chinese ships carrying oil up the Mekong underscored Beijing’s steadfast determination to find alternative routes for transporting the oil and gas it imports from the Middle East. The two vessels arrived at a port in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan carrying a total of 300 tons of refined oil, which was shipped from a port in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai, according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.

This journey along the Mekong marked ”the trial launch of China’s oil-shipping program with its Southeast Asian partners”, Xinhua said. “Experts say the waterway will serve as an alternative to the Strait of Malacca as a route for oil shipping and help to ensure oil supply to Yunnan and southwest China at large.”

About 75% of China’s fuel supplies currently flow through the narrow, pirate-infested Strait of Malacca, positioned between peninsular Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. On the strategic front, Beijing has repeatedly expressed its concerns that in a potential conflict US naval vessels could move to choke off Chinese fuel shipments through the waterway.

The fate of the Mekong, which originates in Chinese territory, has long been a point of contention between China and Southeast Asia. China’s plans to develop as many as a dozen hydroelectric dams along the upper reaches of the river have raised concerns and drawn criticism about the impact on downstream riparian communities in Southeast Asia. Beijing recently scaled back those plans, but the two dams already in operation have at times appeared to dry up the river in northern Thailand.

The Mekong River was made accessible to large cargo ships only in 2004, when a series of rocky rapids in Laos were cleared by Chinese engineers. Since, there has been a growing trade along the river in mostly agricultural and manufactured goods, flowing mainly from southern China to northern Thailand. There have been concomitant concerns that the route has opened the way for human traffickers to move Chinese people more easily into Laos and Thailand and destinations outside the region.

Environmental groups first raised the alarm in 2004 when Beijing unveiled vague plans to use the new trade route for shipping oil. Those same groups expressed concerns in mid-2006 when China moved to secure an increase in the quota of oil it intends to move up the Mekong River. The initial agreement, signed last March by Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and China, permitted a monthly shipping quota of a mere 1,200 tons of refined oil.

When the two Chinese ships made their landmark journey last month, Beijing had set its sights on transporting close to “70,000 tons of refined oil each year from Thailand alone via the Mekong River”, Qiao Xinmin, a Chinese maritime-affairs official, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Muddying the waters

The shipment of oil on the Mekong has environmental groups up in arms. “The whole deal was done in secrecy with no information released to the public or attempts to get the people’s views, especially those living along the Mekong River,” said Premrudee Daoroung, co-director of the Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), which is based in Bangkok. “This confirms who controls the Mekong.”

With blueprints to dam the Mekong on the table, Beijing managed to win over Southeast Asian governments when it changed course and offered to deepen the Mekong by blasting rapids in Myanmar and Laos and open the way for large ships to navigate the river. “China led this effort and was the first to give the money for it, because it was going to be the main beneficiary,” Premrudee said. ( More details from Japan Focus’ report )

Posted in Asia, China, Economy, Environment, Life, Mekong, News, Politics, pollution, River, Social, water, World | 3 Comments »

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