China launched an online information-sharing platform on water resources in Beijing on Monday as part of its efforts to help Mekong River countries address the challenges of climate change.
The opening of the website comes as the Lancang-Mekong River Basin faces escalating difficulties from flooding and drought, both of which are becoming more frequent and intense because of climate change, E Jingping, minister of water resources, said in an address at the opening ceremony.
The Mekong River, known as the Lancang River in China, is a vital waterway for cross-border shipping for China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
"Drinking the water from the same river, the Lancang-Mekong countries are as close as one family living in a community with a shared future," he said. "As the most upstream country, China has always given full consideration to the concerns of the downstream countries, and has made due contributions through practical actions to flood control, disaster mitigation and the water security of downstream countries."
On Nov 1, China extended its sharing of hydrological data on the river with Mekong countries from the flood season alone to the whole year, a major step demonstrating China's goodwill and sincerity as a responsible upstream neighbor, he said.
The online platform is expected to make the information sharing more complete and quicker, to the benefit of the peoples of all countries in the river basin, he said.
"By sharing its own relevant information, China hopes to provide a model and reference for the six member countries to jointly build the information-sharing platform. Meanwhile, the beneficial results of Lancang-Mekong water resources cooperation will also be systematically showcased as evidence that we, the six member countries, are capable of doing a good job in water resources cooperation."
Myo Thant Pe, Myanmar's ambassador to China, said that since the inception of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework in 2016, water resources cooperation has been a prime area of cooperation among the Lancang-Mekong countries, citing the establishment of a water resources cooperation center in March 2017 as an example.
"As the cooperation mechanisms on water resources have been brought onto the fast track, we need to establish an information-sharing platform, which will help us better tackle climate change and natural disasters," he said. "I believe that the informative website will play a role to support not only the six Mekong-Lancang countries, but also the related agencies and the world to learn how our six countries are working in sharing the hydrological information on the Mekong-Lancang River through this new platform."
Data helps relieve droughts
Tian Fuqiang, a professor at Tsinghua University's Department of Hydrological Engineering, said the extension of China's hydrological information sharing is a great help to Mekong countries' efforts to deal with the increasingly frequent and severe droughts caused by climate change.
"Two of the worst droughts in the past century occurred in the basin within the past five years, causing heavy damage to economies and the ecosystem along the river. The recent droughts have made it especially urgent for Mekong countries to get hydrological data about the Lancang River in the dry season," he said.