The Mekong River Dam Project: Overflowing Interests

Issue & Policy Briefs April 7, 2011, No. 66

The Mekong River – Southeast Asia’s largest river – runs from the Tibetan Plateau and through China’s Yunnan province. This part of the river is heavily dammed. South of China, as it goes through Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, has been spared. That might soon be changing as Laos, backed by Thailand, is set to start the construction of the 1260 megawatt Xayaburi hydroelectric plant. Vietnam opposes this plan and claims that the future of the river, and the communities along it, will be threatened. National interests are clearly pitted against each other. The split regarding the future of the Mekong River threatens to damage the relations between Laos and Vietnam and increase regional insecurity.

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