Hunger looms in South East Asia as China grabs river, seas
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2020 - 12:00am

Filipinos had better produce two million more tons of rice a year. Vietnam and Thailand, from which the Philippines gets cereals, will soon no longer be able to sell. With harvests dwindling, they must conserve stocks for domestic consumption. Filipinos will be on their own.

China has dammed up the Mekong River on its side, drying up farms of southern neighbors downstream. Diverted by 11 Chinese dams, Mekong water levels in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos are at the lowest in 60 years. Large swaths of rice lands, fruit and vegetable plantations and fishponds are parched. Livelihoods of 60 million people are crunched. Drinking water sources are becoming scarce. Salinity is ruining the fertile Mekong Delta. Treating the river as its possession alone, Beijing is to build eight more dams. That will totally dry up Vietnam and Thailand’s irrigation. Hunger looms in mainland Southeast Asia. Philippine imports of cheap starch, coffee, tea, fish, crustaceans and mollusks from them will end.

The Mekong springs from the Tibetan plateau, as do the Yellow and Yangtze rivers eastward and Brahmaputra to the west. Since Beijing’s communist rulers annexed Tibet in 1956 they claim right to do as they please. They refuse to sign up with the Mekong Water Commission consisting of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. Doing so would oblige them to share the river, or at least scientific data on rainfall and siltation. Two of China’s 11 dams alone contain as much as 11 million square miles of water, as large as Chesapeake Bay in America. It’s clearly more than enough for China, world experts say. But Beijing’s commissars are obsessed with grandiose engineering projects, even if harmful to their own citizens, like the Three Gorges monstrosity.

There’s worse. As world focus is on fighting COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing is escalating militarization in the South China Sea. Objective: food, fuel and geopolitical supremacy. More arms have been placed in seven Philippine reefs that Beijing illegally concreted into fortresses since 2013. From those Beijing dispatches Chinese fisheries militia vessels to poach in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. With their catch dwindled, Filipinos must buy from China scad (galunggong) stolen from them. In Scarborough Shoal 120 miles from Luzon but 800 miles far from China, Beijing’s gunboats bar Filipino fishers. Inside Chinese thieves take giant clams and fan corals planted there by Filipino scientists in the 1970s. All those Beijing does against international laws and the UN court ruling against its destruction of food sources and the environment.

Of late Beijing’s navy has also harassed Filipino sailors closer to Palawan. A Chinese warship trained weapons on a Philippine patrol in the Malampaya gas field. Beijing falsely claims the area and nearby gas-rich Recto Bank. If it takes Malampaya, Luzon would lose 45 percent of its power source. Blackouts would force food processors and poultry and hog raisers to shut down.

China also poaches in waters of Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Friendship and neighborliness mean nothing to Beijing’s  communist overlords. The rights of 667 million Southeast Asians are of no import.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

My book “Exposés: Investigative Reporting for Clean Government” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Expos%C3%A9s-Investigative-Reporting-Clean-Government-ebook/dp/B00EPX01BG

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Gotcha archives: http://www.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

SOUTH EAST ASIA
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