MRC Secretariat welcomes China’s pledge to share Mekong data but suggests harnessing existing platform
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 25 August 2020 – The Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) has welcomed a statement by Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, pledging to share year-round hydrological data with the Mekong countries.
Speaking yesterday at a virtual Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders’ Meeting attended by leaders of the Mekong countries, Prime Minister Li said, “Starting from this year, China will share the Lancang River’s hydrological data for the whole year with the Mekong countries.”
Dr An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer, applauded the Chinese Premier’s statement: “We welcome Prime Minister Li’s pledge to share whole-year hydrological data with the Lower Mekong countries.”
“To make effective use of the data for the benefit of all the Mekong countries and their peoples, it will be important to discuss exactly what the data includes and how it is to be shared,” he added.
Since 2003, China has provided the MRC with water-level and rainfall data from two hydrological stations located on the Upper Mekong mainstream, at Jinghong and on a tributary at Manan.
But this data is only shared during the flood season from June to October.
China – which is also an MRC Dialogue Partner – expressed its interest in working with the other five Mekong countries to set up a new data sharing platform under the LMC mechanism.
“We wish to work with you to establish an Information Sharing Platform under this water resources cooperation,” Prime Minister Li said. “The Lancang River originates on the Chinese side, so the Chinese side will play a major role in putting in place a platform that will be fully open to all six Mekong countries.”
The MRCS is well prepared, Dr Hatda said, to support its Member Countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam – in working with China and Myanmar to establish the platform.
However, he urged the four MRC members, all located in the lower reaches of the Mekong River, to capitalise on the Commission’s culture of collaboration and harness the existing, long established platform.
He added that the LMB countries already have an operational Data and Information Sharing Platform in place, which is governed by the 1995 Mekong Agreement and the Procedures for Data and Information Exchange and Sharing (PDIES).
What is missing, he said, is the same level of data and information from the Upper Mekong River Basin that covers China and Myanmar; only limited data is shared by China during the flood season.
“Any future platform development should not overlook the knowledge base and system that the MRC has built and raised over the past six decades since the Mekong Committee was founded in 1957,” Dr Hatda said, explaining that the process of establishing such a platform is “complex, lengthy, costly, and even more difficult to maintain.”
“Any future data and information to be shared by the MRC Member Countries under the LMC framework should be developed in close collaboration with the MRCS so that we can connect the two platforms effectively,” he said.
The MRCS also welcomes the Lancang-Mekong leaders’ declaration, which acknowledges and calls for closer ties between the MRC and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation on Water Resources, with support of the Lancang Mekong Cooperation Water Centre, under the signed Memorandum of Understanding with the MRCS last year.
Note to editors:
The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernmental organization for regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River Basin, established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The organization serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.