Mekong River – Nine Dragon River
The final bitter word to a river
Currently, Ba Lai estuary has been covered as a sluice to prevent salt water, and Bassac estuary is blocked by dense alluvium.
Forests are the largest and most effective natural vegetation in the task of regulating the flow of the Mekong River. The forest through the roots and the soil coverage which absorb and retain water during the rainy season, and in the dry season will regulate and supply water downstream to help with the low main stream to prevent saline water from penetrating deeper into the Mekong Delta.
This is a privilege of nature. According to statistics, before World War II, Vietnam's primeval forest area accounted for 43% of the total area, but by 1995, only 28% of the forest remained, that is, 55,000 square kilometers were lost.
· After that, with the help of the United Nations, new afforestation was started; however, as of 2005, the forest rate increased to 32%, in which rubber, tea, and coffee still counted in "forestation". But actually, deforestation continues to increase with galloping concentrations, as of 2005, the primary forest (old-growth forest) in Vietnam was only 8%.
· Deforestation of melaleuca and mangrove forests in mangrove areas: In the Mekong Delta, mangroves occupy about 30,000 km² including Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre, and Can Gio provinces. But after more than 15 years of exploiting shrimp farming, the current forest area is only about 20,000 km², and the lost area is abandoned because this land is polluted after several shrimp seasons. Only for the Ca Mau region, before 1975, mangroves accounted for about 15,000 km2, but now, only about 7,000 km2.
Melaleuca forests, surrounding mangrove forests form a preferential zone of nature in order to:
- Maintain the alluvial cover for Ca Mau cape every year over 1km in the past, and at present, due to destruction of mangroves, the coast in this area is increasingly eroded by an estimated 1/2 km/year);
- Preventing storms and tropical storms each year;
- As a shelter and breeding area for fish and shrimp in nature;
- Mangroves are also a buffer to limit sulphate contamination and minimize saltwater intrusion during the dry season. (In March 2016, the Mekong River discharge was reduced to 800 m3/s in Tan Chau, so the salt water had entered to inland more than 100Km).
Once the tasks of protecting the Mekong Delta by nature have been lost, the risk of making rice granaries of a large area increasingly reduced in terms of both area and productivity. The mission of mangroves is very important;
But now, the paradoxical phenomenon that is happening with the covered dike is that the water of the Mekong River flows directly into the two areas above even before the high water season for agricultural exploitation. Therefore, when the high water season (floating water) comes, a huge amount of water will flow into the two previously flooded areas. That's why flooding occurs.
The construction of covered dikes to transport water for agriculture or to prevent floods is an important research project, it takes many years to calculate the amount of water that needs to be diverted, it may not be at the discretion of the local authorities. Local authorities ordered covered dikes to be built around the commune areas to avoid flooding and, of course, the surrounding communes had to suffer as a result.
The second typical example of the damage of the covered dike during the dry season in April 2010, some areas in the North of Hau Giang province, due to the dike problem, the water source could not be accessed. Therefore, some consequences are happening to this area a few years later, such as:
- No circulation of water, the soil is becoming more and more rotten because the residues of fertilizers, pesticides, and especially alluvium do not enter every year as before, so the rice yield is reduced gradually by the time.
- The covered dike limits water resources, so in many places farmers only grow rice for their families, the rest of the season they have to grow legumes or beans crops to make a living.
- The time of water shortage is prolonged, so the income of farmers is decreasing day by day.
In summary, the problem of covered dikes in the Mekong Delta needs to be re-studied as suggested by some agricultural and soil experts currently working at Hau Giang and Can Tho universities.
· Seawater encroachment from the South: Many rice farmers are turning to shrimp farming as rising saltwater from the South East Asia Sea is threatened, wiping out annual rice crops, a granary of rice that feeds the whole country and exports. 5-7 million tons of rice annually. Currently, people in the Mekong Delta have to eat rice imported from Cambodia!
As inland river water becomes more saline, rice farmers in the Mekong Delta are responding by switching to shrimp or reed farming. Saltwater in recent years has penetrated more than 80km inland. According to the Southern Irrigation Research Institute, saline intrusion destroyed more than 6,000 hectares (60 square kilometers) of rice paddies in 2016, and each year the area of mangroves increases gradually. "Nearly half of the delta's population currently doesn't have access to fresh water and that's serious," said Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change Research. Scientists from the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental body, also warn that if sea levels continue to rise at an expected rate of about one meter by the end of the century, nearly 40% of the delta will be erased. As a result, an alarming 500 ha (5 km2) of land is expected to be lost to soil erosion every year. Ky Quang Vinh, director of the Climate Change Coordinating Office, a Vietnamese government agency in Can Tho, the most populous city in the Mekong Delta, said: "Sea levels are rising so quickly that our defenses have failed.”
International organizations on the Mekong River
Up to now, there are 4 international organizations related to the Mekong River and one UN Convention that generally regulates rivers with flows through many countries as follows:
Mekong River Commission – MRC
The Mekong Commission was established on April 5, 1995 with the aim: “This Agreement brings the four countries together to promote and coordinate the sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the common good of nations and the well-being of their people.
Currently, there are only four members remaining, namely Thai - Laos - Myanmar - Vietnam, are working together, exchanging information through two monitoring stations in Tan Chau and Chau Doc such as weekly flow measurement, chemical and physical parameters such as salinity, turbidity, bacteria. Particularly, the monitoring station located across the border of Yunnan province, managed by China, refused to exchange the above-mentioned measurement information from this station, despite facing a lot of international pressure in this respect.
Mekong Initiative – LMI
The Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) was established in response to the July 23, 2009 meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foreign Ministers of the Lower Mekong countries - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam - in Phuket. , Thailand.
The Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) is a decade-long partnership between the United States, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam to promote sustainable economic growth in the region. The initiative supports cooperation among member countries through programs that address common challenges in the region. LMI is supported through two interdisciplinary pillars: the Nexus Pillar covering the environment, water, energy and food, and the Connectivity Pillar and Human Development Pillar. Development) including education, health, women's empowerment, and economic integration.
4- Lancang-Mekong River Cooperation
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting via video link at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 24, 2020. The meeting was co-chaired by Li Keqiang and Minister Thongloun Prime Sisoulith of Laos, and attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, President U Win Myint of Myanmar, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam.
In the third meeting of the leaders of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) comprehensively outlined the future cooperation plan among LMC members, of course, under the initiative of China. Chinese President Li Keqiang made a series of proposals to promote Lancang-Mekong cooperation in areas such as water resources, connectivity and global anti-pandemic efforts.
As a responsible partner, China shares hydrological data on the Lancang River in a more timely and transparent manner with downstream countries, and undertakes urgent cooperation to respond to floods and droughts. It should be emphasized here that this was written in the Mekong River Commission, but China did not enforce it! But now it promises again!
In 2016, 2019, and 2020 Mekong countries have suffered from many severe droughts. China promised (again!) to strengthen the scientific operation of reservoirs on the Lancang River to effectively alleviate the drought, which was highly acknowledged by the governments of the Mekong countries including Laos, as well as by the international community.
Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International
Mekong River's water resources as follows:
· Article 3 – Clause 4. Watercourse agreements: Where a watercourse agreement is concluded between two or more watercourse States, it shall define the waters to which it applies. Such an agreement may be entered into with respect to an entire international watercourse or any part thereof or a particular project, programme or use except insofar as the agreement adversely affects, to a significant extent, the use by one or more other watercourse States of the waters of the watercourse, without their express consent.
· Article 7 – Clause 1. Obligation not to cause significant harm: Watercourse States shall, in utilizing an international watercourse in their territories, take all appropriate measures to prevent the causing of significant harm to other watercourse States.
· Article 8 – Clause 1. General obligation to cooperate: Watercourse States shall cooperate on the basis of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, mutual benefit, and good faith in order to attain optimal utilization and adequate protection of an international watercourse.
· Article 33 – 1. Settlement of disputes: In the event of a dispute between two or more parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present Convention, the parties concerned shall, in the absence of an applicable 13 agreement between them, seek a settlement of the dispute by peaceful means in accordance with the following provisions.
In short, through four international organizations on the Mekong River, we find that China's attitude and cooperation is completely based on its interests, and denies any responsibility in exploiting the Mekong River flowing through its territory, such as:
· China has stood outside the Mekong Commission even though it has obligations and responsibilities because the Mekong River flows through thousands of Km;
· China created the Lancang-Mekong River Cooperation for the purpose of the economic integration of the basin only in their opinion, completely denying responsibility for building step dams right on the mainstream, contrary to regulations of the 1997 United Nations Convention.
From the above
two reasons, we can conclude that China is the main actor in the destruction of
the environment and ecology of the Mekong River and is subjected to the jurisdiction of the following two international
· Through the provisions of the 1997 UN Convention, we can sue China to the International Court of Justice - The International Court of Justice through Articles:- Article 3-Clause 4; - Article 7-Clause 1; - Article 8-Clause 1; and - Article 33 -Clause 1 as mentioned above;
· About The International Criminal Court - In 1990 when the International Criminal Court - ICC - the world's first permanent International Criminal Court was established in the world. As the court of last resort, the ICC was established not to replace national courts but to supplement them, creating a global court that would try the most serious crimes that could be committed. international community concern in which the ICC raised the level of environmental destruction to the level of genocide in order to introduce a Code of Environmental and Ecosystem Destruction that prosecutes environmental crimes located outside the zone. national jurisdiction.
Through the above standards of the ICC, for violations through illegal exploitation of the Mekong River, China can be convicted of "genocide" (ecocide) through destroying the Mekong river environment affecting thousands of people. Hundreds of millions of people live along the river basin, including over 25 million Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta.
Along with the blatantly monopolizing the seas and islands of Vietnam, the Philippines and the waters of the two above countries, it can be said that China has used two important sources of water weapons, namely the East China Sea, and in the west is the Mekong River to overwhelm the countries of Southeast Asia to show their hegemonic way.
And, from the above actions of China, the world has the right to condemn China with the crime of genocide.
Under the influence of nature and humans, the Mekong River currently has only 7 active estuaries and the 2 had ceased to exist which are Ba Lai drain and Bassac gate.
On the Tien River in Ben Tre province, Ba Lai estuary is an example of the death of an estuary due to human impact. In 1999, the dam system at the Ba Lai estuary was built, as a result, the accretion process happened faster and up to now, this estuary has stopped flowing. Now it has turned into a "salt barrier" (!).
The Bassac estuary (now known as Bat Thac) is the main estuary on the Hau River, but the accretion process began in the early years of the 20th century. The sand dunes at this estuary have developed strongly, connecting and became a large island blocking the mouth of the river with an area of nearly 24,000 hectares (now Cu Lao Dung district, Soc Trang). Due to the gradual death of Bassac estuary, Hau River currently has only 2 estuaries flowing into the East Sea, Dinh An estuary in the north and Tranh De estuary (after 1975 this gate is called Trần Đề) in the south. See color image below taken in 2021).
Thus, at present, the Mekong River only has 7 estuaries in operation, of which 5 estuaries belong to Tien river. They are Tieu, Dai, Ham Luong, Co Chien, Cung Hau, and 2 of Hau River are Dinh An and Tranh Đe".
embitter word for a river
Although, over the years, more than 15,000 people have signed a letter to the leaders of countries in the region asking to stop hydropower projects to save the Mekong River, but all dams projects right on the river Mainstream activities of the Mekong still proceed sequentially in Laos and Cambodia. An application initiated by the "Save the Mekong" Alliance has been sent to the prime ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, requesting an immediate halt to 11 hydropower projects in the lower Mekong region. Of these, seven hydroelectric dams will be built in Laos, two at the Laos-Thailand border, and two in Cambodia. And recently, as of December 2022, a dam under construction in Laos near the Cambodian border endangers downstream communities and the Mekong ecosystem at large, affected experts and community members say. The Sekong A Dam will close the Sekong River later this year, restricting its flow, preventing vital sediment from reaching the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and cutting off the passage of many fish species. Experts say the energy produced by the dam - 86 MW - does not justify the negative impact, calling it an "absolutely unnecessary project."
· The main reason is that while these hydropower projects will provide electricity for economic development, they can cause serious harm to the environment and biodiversity of the Mekong River, and adversely affect the lives of people living on this Mother River.
· The Vietnamese government has received many grants from the World Bank to plant forests. But the difficulties in doing this are because the abandoned lands that are no longer exploited have been owned or leased to China for 50, 70 years, so afforestation cannot be done again.
· Another negative phenomenon is that due to the awareness of the people because the importance of the presence and usefulness of mangroves is not explained, many places have been replanted but then destroyed…
Another significant factor is poor management, corruption and intercept the aid budget. It is these things that make mangrove regeneration more difficult and impossible in practice..
And at an international meeting on the Mekong, the issue of drought and saltwater intrusion was also mentioned. Many experts say that upstream reservoirs participating in solving drought problems for the Mekong Delta are good and necessary.
However, this assessment is not correct because the reservoirs can only cut the moderate flood but can’t cut the the big flood like in 1991 and 2000. It is not good to make the moderate flood into no flood because the Mekong Delta is an area in need of floods, depending it life on floods and developing by floods.
Thanks to floods. The role of Tonle Sap as a natural reservoir that regulates water for the Mekong Delta in the dry season and limits the flow of the Mekong River in the high water season is no longer effective.
It should also be known that the amount of alluvium deposited in the Mekong Delta is about 150 million tons for an average flood season. If small floods also reach about 100 million tons, in August-September alone (the peak of the annual floating season), the amount of silt will reach about 60-70 million. From the 2016 winter-spring crop to the present, 2023, due to the low flow, the amount of alluvium deposited in the Mekong Delta is very low, affecting the winter-spring rice crop. Up to now, the damage amounted to more than 200,000 hectares as mentioned above. In addition, saline intrusion will increase. It is forecasted that, over time, the phenomenon of saltwater intrusion is happening and will happen sooner and more severely as mentioned above.
The historic drought has made the people of the Mekong Delta miserable. According to many experts, with the current rate of saltwater intrusion, agriculture in this ragion will be severely affected in the near future (regarded from 2016, and until now, the drought and saltwater intrusion in May). from March each year is getting more and more fierce every year!).
Conclusion - Last but not enough!
Finally yet importantly!
Please do not blame "climate change", but must accept the consequences that are happening today to the Mekong and Mekong Delta due to the management and development NOT in the direction of globalization, which is, developing in the direction of adaptation, compatible with environmental protection. But this is a crime caused by selfishness and lack of knowledge about dike building by the central and local leaders of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Sincerely calling on national and international agencies directly or
indirectly related to the water source of the Mekong River, policymakers, and residents of the river
basin and the Mekong Delta region adhere to uphold the principles below to
develop and exploit the Mekong River Basin seriously and responsibly of the
1. That the moratorium be imposed immediately against further Mekong water diversion, damming, and hydropower projects, the top priority for national and international agencies should be the development of scientific baseline data on the Mekong, its hydrology, and its ecosystems..
That all Mekong River development and diversion projects, regardless of their financial
source and ownership, must honor and grant the "right to be
educated" along with
the “right to know” for
all affected populations. The affected people must be provided with adequate information and knowledge
necessary to understand the project’s design, review the costs and benefits,
and self-assess the long-term impacts of the project.
3. That all agencies and authorities conduct their business on the principle of transparency and full disclosure that development plans, agreements, environmental baseline data, environmental impact assessment reports, and feasibility studies be made public and available for review by the international scientific community, non-governmental organizations, and by individual private citizens,
4. That the four Lower Mekong nations: Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam modify the 1995 agreement to closely follow the language of the United Nation’s Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses of 1997; and that China and Myanmar join the above four lower Mekong countries, and together negotiate an agreement for the development and protection of the Mekong in the 21st Century.
In parallel with the above events, the intentional or unintentional actions of the upstream countries exacerbated the problem and our Mekong River's environmental damage became more and more drastic. Especially, the risks affecting the present and future lives of people in the Mekong Delta are increasingly aggravated by economic development policies that lack careful consideration of environmental impacts in each plan. Vietnamese Communist Party's plan.
Facing the risks of environmental destruction and food safety affecting tens of millions of people in the Nine Gragon Delta, we have no ambition to find a way to solve the problem, but we just want to ring the bell. The alarm calls on all partners directly or indirectly involved to come together to save the Mekong River, the world's last major natural river, to preserve the original balance of the ecosystem of this river, and how we will protect the economic and political stability of the people in the region.
Before the vital issues of the Vietnamese people, our suggestions and
comments in the present and in the future all focus on the following
theoretical bases to protect humanity's natural resources. First of all, for
the long-term interests of the people living downstream, we all recognize that Vietnam
needs to cooperate in a fair and reasonable manner to protect the interests of
They are issues that flow across all political regimes, and all economic and environmental contexts. On that
basis, policies and plans the for exploitation of
the Mekong Delta need to be economically efficient and
environmentally and socially harmonious, which are the common concerns and
responsibilities of each Vietnamese.
Since the early 1990s, when the Vietnamese Communist Party started a food security policy by building covered dikes to bring water "early" to the Long Xuyen Quadrangle and Dong Thap Muoi, the two main rice bowls of the Mekong Delta. This "national policy" disturbs the natural flow of the Tien and Hau rivers, thereby giving consequences each year when the flood season comes around August and September, which has turned into daily floods. today… The reason is the river itself is no longer able to regulate the flow of water.
In addition, China's ecological war strategy, controlling water resources in the trade source creates the above risks for the Mekong River to be unbalanced, affecting 25 million people living in the Mekong Delta who have to leave the area, the “umbilical cord burial place” (chôn nhau cắt rốn) of the ancestors for seeking new source of food!
Knowing the causes of disasters for the Mekong River.
Catching the solutions to resolt the problem.
This is an urgent issue shared by the whole block of South East countries in terms of food security, migration security, environmental security as well as energy security. Then, taking this opportunity, from there, we can mobilize the consensus of the members to mobilize and pressure China to sit at the table and find an amicable solution for all members in the division. sharing the water resources of the Mekong River.
As experts in foreign countries have the opportunity to access information from many different sources and especially have scientific independent thinking, We cannot help but be concerned about the uneconomic and unscientific exploitation of this fertile part of the country by the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Based on scientific, economic, social,
and environmental analysis. We recognize the Mekong Delta is facing great long-term dangers. Without the right determination and
direction, in the future, the Vietnamese people will suffer a lot of heavy
And the main reason is China.
Beijing has turned China into the world's leading "super-corporation" in the construction of dams at home and abroad in terms of number and size. To advertise the possibility of building the tallest, largest, deepest and longest dams, Beijing has focused on completing the Three Gorges Dam, calling it the greatest architectural feat. in history.
Since China erected a series of giant dams on the Mekong River, drought has become more frequent and more intense in the countries downstream of the river.
And the main reason is China.
So far Beijing has refused to enter into water-sharing agreements with any of its neighbours. If China does not abandon its current approach, the prospect of future confrontations that could lead to a regional war is no different from the current situation in the South China Sea.
As for the CCP and the North Vietnamese communist's help, the following should be mentioned:
· Four main causes of disastrous consequences for the Mekong Delta: - China builds hydroelectric dams - Deforestation for logging - Construction of dikes to prevent water to increase the third winter-spring rice season – Deforestation of mangroves for shrimp farming.
· China has never seen the Mekong flowing through its interior as just a part of an international river, it sees the Mekong as its own river. Each year China captures more than 80% of the water of the Mekong River into its series of hydroelectric dams, downstream countries only have about 10% of its resources. China knows that but does nothing. This is the problem that the Mekong River Commission - the Mekong River Commission has to face, while with the Lancang Mekong Cooperation Summit China can say whatever they want, discuss whatever they want and everything remains the same.
• Since the early 1990s, when the CPV started its food security policy by building dikes to lead water "early" to the Long Xuyen Quadrangle and Dong Thap Muoi, the two main granaries of the Mekong Delta. It is this "national policy" that disturbs the natural flow of the Tien and Hau rivers, thereby giving consequences each year when the flood season comes around August and September, which has turned into daily floods. Today, the river is no longer able to regulate the flow of water. In Cai Be, the durian garden turned into a firewood barn because saltwater killed many fruit gardens. Consequences of China's blocking of the dam upstream of the Mekong River.
· US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that China is controlling the Mekong River by massively building hydroelectric dams. “We see massive hydropower dam construction in the upper Mekong River to control the downstream area,” Pompeo speaks at a conference in Bangkok, Thailand on August 1, 2020. The conference marked 10 years since the US launched the development funding program "Lower Mekong Initiative".
China's eco-war strategy, of controlling water resources upstream creates the above risks for the Mekong Mother River to be unbalanced, affecting 25 million people living in the Mekong Delta who have to leave their place of residence. His father went to the other side to seek real food. Many historic droughts from 2016 onwards… have made the people of the West miserable. According to many experts, with the current rate of saline intrusion, agriculture in this place will be severely affected in the future. When…for now?
With the chart of salinity in March 2020 below, the weather forecast for the winter-spring rice seasons in March 2021, March 2022, and March 2023…will be even more severe with over 200,000 hectares of rice fields. and the crops died white.
· Then, at some point, the fertile and fertile land of the Mekong Delta will become a dead and desolate land. With two prongs "confronting": 1- The sea water attacks on the mainland increase, 2- And the upstream of the Mekong River is blocked by many hydroelectric dams built by China, which will dry up the water flow in the downstream area. , certainly kills this famous and rich landmark of Vietnam's homeland - the Mekong Delta.
The CPV must see clearly what needs to be done for today and tomorrow. If you still cling to the 16 Golden and 4 Paw characters, I am afraid that Vietnam will be the fifth small star on the Chinese red flag.
The Communist Party of Vietnam should not blame "climate change" but must accept the obvious fact that today's consequences for the Mekong Delta are due to the management and development not in accordance with the process of globalization. is to develop in the direction appropriate to environmental protection.
Once upon a time, our ancestors said:
When you drink water, must think of the source
Today, we have to say:
When you drink water, must protect the source.
In the end, only our Land and Water remain and future generations will look back and “grade” our actions today.
All regimes must pass away.
All Communist governments
must end one day
Mai Thanh Truyết
Vietnamese American Science & Technology Society - VAST
Vietnamese Environmental Protection Society – VEPS