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China Releases Emergency Water Supply to Help Drought-Stricken Neighbours

By | Mar 22, 2016 01:43 PM EDT
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People watch waves in Qiantang river

China has opened the Jinghong hydropower plant into the Mekong River to provide water for downstream countries.(Photo : Getty Images/ China Foto)

China's Jinghong Hydropower Station has released emergency water supply of up to 2,190 cubic meters per second into the Mekong River to the immense relief of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. By Sunday, March 19, the water had reached Northern Thailand. The emergency water supply plan will last from March 15 to April 10.

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The Mekong River, which runs through China's Yunan province, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, is reportedly at its lowest level since 1926. Owing to the worsening El-Nino conditions, Vietnam is facing its worst drought in almost a century. The worries of the Vietnamese people have been exacerbated by the fact that Thailand's temporary pumping station have extracted up to 47 million cubic meters of water from Mekong into the Huai Luang River, in Thailand's Nong Khai province.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a news conference in Beijing on March 15 had said that China and the five countries sharing the drought-hit river are on good neighborly terms and are willing to help each other out in this difficult situation.

"China is willing to enhance... co-operation with related countries... in water resources management and disaster response, to benefit the people in the region," Lu said.

China's efforts to alleviate the drought in the five Southeast Asian countries have been widely applauded. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed his gratitude as the water supply from China reached Northern Thailand by March 19. With drought zones being declared in 46 districts of 12 provinces, Thailand is dealing with the worst drought in two decades and undoubtedly China's help has come as a great relief.

Pham Hong Giang, President of Vietnam 'National Committee on Large Dams and Water Resources Development,' has also voiced appreciation for China's decision to release water supply to the drought hit countries, describing it as a 'cooperative move', Xinhua reported.

According to the Global Drought Information System, El-Nino will continue to exert its influence throughout the spring of 2016. China's decision to release emergency water from the Jinghong Hydropower Station into the Mekong River comes as a ray of hope to people of the five Indochinese Peninsular countries.

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