The Biden administration in the US has urged China not to impede the flow of Mekong river waters to southeastasian countries downstream. Suspicions about the use of transboundary rivers for geopolitical gains was recently highlighted by IndiaNarrative.com when it reported that China had constructed 11 dams over the Mekong, threatening water flows to several ASEAN countries. Besides, China had decided to build a 60-gigawatt mega-dam on the Brahmaputra river, just 30 km away from the Indian border, which could restrict the water flows to India and Bangladesh.
The Mekong is the longest river in the region with a length of approximately 4900 km, flowing from its source on the Tibetan Plateau in China through various Southeast Asian countries. While the Upper Mekong River Basin comprises the Tibetan Plateau, the Three Rivers Area and Lancang Basin in China and Myanmar, the Lower one is made up of the Northern Highlands, the Khorat Plateau, the Tonle Sap Basin and the Mekong Delta. It covers Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) - an intergovernmental organisation for regional dialogue and cooperation in the lower Mekong river basin based on the Mekong Agreement between the four Lower Mekong countries - had reported recently that the water level along the river has fallen to "worrying" levels.
While the region has received lower rainfall since the beginning of the year, the major reasons have been the flow changes made upstream, hydropower operations in the Mekong tributaries and outflow restrictions from the Jinghong hydropower station in China's Yunnan province.