Thailand: Chinese company CCCC consults locals over environmental impacts of Mekong blasting project

Author: Andrew Stone, Chinadialogue, Published on: 27 January 2019

"Chinese company consults locals over Mekong blasting"

…[A] series of public consultations [were] held between 3-5 January by the [China Communications Construction Company (CCCC)] with communities along the Mekong in Chiang Rai province. CCCC Second Harbour Consultants conducted the meetings as part of an impact assessment into its proposal to blast and dredge the Mekong for commercial shipping. The company is waiting for final approval from the Thai government. The scheme aims to open up the Mekong river, which flows from Tibet in China through Southeast Asia, to commercial barges of 500 tonnes (up from the current maximum of 200 tonnes). The project would involve blasting stretches of the river between Thailand and Laos to enable ships to move from China’s Yunnan province all the way to the UNESCO world heritage site of Luang Prabang in Laos.

The project has been in the pipeline for decades but was suspended for 10 years by previous Thai authorities due to concerns over the environmental and social impacts and sovereignty issues on the Laos-Thai border. In December 2016, the Thai cabinet, in a surprise move, approved CCCC’s plansto carry out an initial survey and impact assessment. China has already blasted sections of the river in Laos but many Thai citizens still feel that while the engineering project may benefit China economically, it will seriously damage the environment. 

In the three consultation meetings locals took the opportunity to express their deep concerns about the impact of clearing their river. Frustration and sometimes anger were palpable, but whether the consultations will have any impact on the outcome of the final project is not yet clear.

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Related companies: China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC)