Amur River waters are being “divided” between Russia and China
The project of a 18 km-long canal construction in Hulunbeir prefecture (Inner Mongolia, China) was frozen in summer 2007, after Russia had expressed serious concern at the official negotiations of countries’ leaders. However, after the Olympics in 2008, its active construction was restarted and considerable amount of ground works has been already finished. Planned water intake of 1.05 cubic meters of water per year equals 30% of average Hailar/Argun water supply from China territory, and in fact – could be even more.
Meanwhile, the Argun River floodplain is a water source for the Zabaikalye Territory, and Dauria wetlands are of global environmental value, especially for migratory birds.
This construction could result in catastrophic drying up of transboundary territory of Argun river upward of Priargunsk, destruction of unique ecosystems, decline of agricultural economy and impossible living conditions for local people. Russian will totally depend on decision of Hulunbeir prefecture “whether to give or not to give” water to the border area . That is why Argun valley conservation, as the most important “green buffer” is a priority task in Sino-Russian border affairs.
“China erects several more water reservoirs, this will turn ecological consequences of canal construction worse. We consider this to be a violation of Article 2 Part 8 of “Agreement between Russian and China Government on Sustainable Use and Protection of Transboundary Waters”, - comments Yury Darman, head of WWF-Russia’s Amur branch. – “In future such management of transboundary waters will serve a model for redistribution of Amur and Ussury waters in China favour, and a motive to launch water transfer of Amur upper reaches to Goby desert in Mongolia.”
“We hope that during coming visit of Hu Jintao, President of China to Moscow, leaders of China and Russia will agree to stop destructive projects and to verify measures of compliance with environmental safety requirements on the common border”, notes Yu. Darman.