China to release water from dam to alleviate SE Asia drought

A father with his children walk over the cracked soil of a 1.5 hectare dried up fishery at the Novaleta town in Cavite province, south of Manila May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will release water from a dam in its southwestern province of Yunnan to help alleviate a drought in parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. The water will be released until April 10 from the Jinghong dam, ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing. It will benefit Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, Lu added. China "hopes it can be of help in alleviating the drought downstream", he said. According to Vietnamese media, some 140,000 ha of rice in the Mekong Delta has been damaged by the drought with around 600,000 people facing drinking water shortages. While China and Vietnam are involved in an increasingly bitter territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the two Communist-lead countries have traditionally had close ties. Beijing and Hanoi have also been trying to repair ties severely harmed in 2014 when Beijing parked an oil rig in waters off the Vietnamese coast, leading to anti-China riots. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)