Projects in Mekong River basin hurt environment

Chinese enterprises in the Great Mekong Subregion, particularly projects in mineral resources and hydroelectric power, have had a negative impact on the regional environment, according to a newly released blue book about the region.

The book, released on Thursday by Social Sciences Academic Press (China), called for better international cooperation in the region to protect the local environment as well improved legislation to regulate Chinese projects overseas.

The Great Mekong Subregion is a development project formed by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 comprising six countries in the Mekong River basin: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan province, China.

According to the blue book, waste dumped by Chinese mining projects in the region is damaging the environment. The hydropower project between China, Myanmar and Laos, though it supplies much needed electricity, has sparked concerns that the project is affecting fish habitats and vegetation in the region, the book says.

Due to public concerns and strong opposition from NGOs, countries in the region have established stricter requirements on future cooperation with China in these industries, the book says. To better cope with the problem, the book suggests Chinese legislature draft stricter laws to evaluate corporate behaviors and regulate Chinese investments overseas.

Chinese financial institutes should also consider policies that make environmental protection a high priority into their investment decisions and avoid financing short-term projects, the book says.

The book also suggests better cooperation among the region’s countries in assessing a project’s environmental impact before approving environmental risky projects.

“We hope our research can provide some insight for the government and organizations,” said Li Zhi, chief editor of the blue book.

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