Vietnam requests Cambodia share information on Funan Techo canal

By Vu Anh, Nguyen Tien   April 11, 2024 | 05:03 am PT
Vietnam requests Cambodia share information on Funan Techo canal
Fishing vessels are seen on a section of the Mekong River running through Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 2021. Photo by Reuters
Vietnam on Thursday asked Cambodia to share information and evaluate the impacts of the Funan Techo canal project on the water resources and ecological environment of the Mekong Delta region.

"Vietnam supports the demand for socio-economic development of the Mekong River riparian countries. We emphasize the importance of strenghthening cooperation for effective and sustainable management of use of the Mekong River water resources," deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Doan Khac Viet said at a regular press meet.

He was answering inquiries regarding Cambodia’s plans to construct the Funan Techo canal, which is estimated to cost $1.7 billion, and would be built by a Chinese company through the build-operate-transfer method.

The canal, expected to span 180 km, would connect the Phnom Penh River port with the Gulf of Thailand in southwestern Cambodia. The canal is expected to enter operation in 2028, according to a document sent by Cambodia to the Mekong River Commission in August 2023.

"Vietnam is deeply interested in the information about the Funan Techo canal project," Viet said. "We have asked Cambodia to collaborate closely with Vietnam and the Mekong River Commission in sharing information and assessing the project's impacts on water resources and ecosystem in the Mekong Delta region to ensure harmonious interests of riparian countries and local residents."

He said the effective and sustainable use of water resources at the Mekong River would serve the sustainable development of the basin, the interests of communities in the area, as well as unity between riverine nations.

Previously on April 9, the Cambodian president of the Senate Hun Sen denied information saying the canal could create conditions for Chinese military vessels to enter the Mekong River.

"Why would Cambodia bring Chinese troops into its country, which violates the constitution? And why would China bring its troops to Cambodia, which is contrary to the principle of respect for Cambodia's independence?" he wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"The Funan Techo Canal purely serves socio-economic benefit as it provides more waterways to southwestern Cambodia in addition to the existing transport routes along the Mekong River. This vital infrastructure facilitates agricultural activities by providing water for crop cultivation, is good for water management during the rainy season, and increases freshwater fish production, among other benefits," he added.

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