Two Important Lessons from Mekong Mainstream Dams in China:
Lesson I: ‘Dams can’t control flooding and in the context of the climate changecrisis, cause to dry’ Lesson II: ‘Dams cause huge disasters’Introduction
This amazing river named “Mekong” flows through Indochina beginning from theTibetan Plateau, East of the Himalayas. It flows through Si Suan Pan Na (Sib Song Pan Na) in Yunnan Province, Burma, Laos PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and out to South ChinaSea at the South of Vietnam. Certainly, this river has motivated capitalists from the timesof colonialism to the current times of globalization.Since colonial countries left Southeast Asia without achieving trade operations in theriver, nation-states have developed into both liberal Democracies and Communist-Socialist state regimes. The region’s liberal states have since established an organizationnamed the ‘Mekong River Commission,’ (MRC) which is an Inter-governmentalOrganization between the Lower Mekong Countries. This organization works to manageMekong River resources. More recently, Socialist countries have changed their economic mechanisms into ‘Free Market Socialism’ and become members of the MRC.While China has yet to join this organization, their change in economic mechanismsallowed it to become a ‘New Economic Giant.’ These massive changes have broughtquestions about the role of socialist political ideology in these transforming economies.The model of economic growth-led developed hascreated a focus on Mekong resourcesas materials to be transformed into the energy of production and assigned a monetaryvalue – more impressive than the aesthetic value of nature itself.
Lesson I: ‘Dams can’t control flooding’
Given the global economic compettition, an important economic growth driver is llargedam building on the mainstream Mekong River. Dams have been built to block the Upper Mekong, which is called ‘Lanchang Jiang’ in Yunnana Province, China. The first dam,called ‘Manwan’ was started in 1993 and began electricitygeneration by 1996, which isthe first year that riparian villagers in Mekong Downstream area in Chiang Rai Province,Thailand were impacted by drastically low water levels. Dashaoshan Dam beganelectricity generation in 2003 and Jinghong Dam started to store the water in 2008, with 5electricity generators operating by May 2009. The latest news is the largest dam calledthe ‘Xiaowan Dam,’ which started to store water and run the first electric generator on 25September 2009. Most electricity is being sent to the East of China, where there is the