Gridhot.ID – The conflict between the United States and China is endless.
The South China Sea is now heating up after a number of world military forces clashed in these dense waters.
But apparently now, the confrontation between two large military powers, the US vs. China is now reportedly changing directions.
No longer a battle at sea, but the feud moved to a large river that crosses several countries in Asia.
The Mekong River is known for its wide and long rivers that cross from China to Vietnam.
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There are at least five countries in Southeast Asia that are crossed by these large rivers.
Among others, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia. until Vietnam is crossed by that big river.
About 60 million people in six countries including China depend on the river water flow.
But apparently the new facts revealed that China is now manipulating the river in various ways.
Environmental activist experts and a number of officials said that China and the US scramble for influence in various countries through which the river flows.
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Reporting from Reuters, the confrontation between the two countries is shifting from the South China Sea to the Mekong River today.
The US and Chinese governments each heralded a different report on whether 11 Chinese dams on the river hurt downstream countries.
Attention is now being paid to Chinese dams which apparently provide extensive control over the waters from China to Vietnam.
The controls allow China to set a development agenda related to the waterway, and exclude the US from its role after decades of promoting Mekong projects as a way to exert its influence in the region.
“This is a geopolitical problem, like the South China Sea, between the US and China,” said Witoon Permpongsacharoen of the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network.
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Last year, the Mekong River experienced a drought with the lowest level of the Mekong in decades.
A US ambassador in the region described China as “stockpiling” water in its 11 dams at the top of a 4,350 km (2,700 mile) river, and damaging the livelihoods of millions of people in downstream countries.
Not only that, China also increased the activities of the Mekong Design Cooperation Group (LMC), a relatively new intergovernmental body in an effort to override the Mekong Sungan (MRC) commission which had existed since 25 years ago.
The MRC traces its origins back to US efforts to promote development during the Cold War.
The MRC works with the governments of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to encourage the sharing and sustainable development of rivers and their resources.
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Quoting from Reuters, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the US of trying to blame Beijing for the control of the great river.
“Countries outside the region must refrain from causing problems,” the ministry said.
Research by Eyes on Earth, a US-based research and consulting firm specializing in water, built a prediction model based on satellite imagery and MRC data that it said showed water loss downstream, starting around 2010.
The US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy said he was “quite surprised” at the apparent findings.
“To find out that the main source for the reduced level of the Mekong, and the change in the Mekong in the Lower Mekong region, is what is happening upstream in China with basically water retention,” Murphy said.
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The accusation also made China furious until the Chinese Embassy in Thailand condemned the study.
He denounced the criticism as “politically motivated, aimed at targeting China with bad intentions”.
Last week, Global Times China published an article on a Chinese study that denied the Eyes on Earth report.
“The river dam in China helps alleviate the drought along the Lancang-Mekong,” the headline in a newspaper published by People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China, said.
This article has been aired on Figure.ID with the title Dismantled, China Manipulation of the Mekong River Across 5 ASEAN Countries, US Ready to Move Battlefields from the South China Sea to Oppose China.