Single title

The Displaced

Disrupted Trade, Labour, and Politics in the Mekong River Basin

The ‘Mother of Waters’ is heavily troubled. There is an immediate need to reset the institutional rules that are either too outdated, lack regulatory teeth, or fail to substantially address both old and emerging concerns. If governments fail to do this, a unique ecosystem will die, in effect destroying the lives of millions of people. The volume, published by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s (KAS) Regional Economic Programme Asia (SOPAS), contains country-specific papers or case studies on trade, labour, and China’s growing political influence in the Greater Mekong Region. Topics include (1) labour migration and displacement in the Mekong River basin, (2) the impact of pandemics on economic and social patterns, (3) interregional trade and growing competitiveness, and (4) geopolitical issues resulting from coercive water and energy politics, among others. The chapters also provide discussions on how each state’s respective national framework attempts to address these issues.

Table of Contents

About the Editors


Water, Energy, Climate Change, and Geopolitics in the Mekong River Basin: An Introduction by Brahma Chellaney


Section 1: Water and Energy Politics 

- China’s Water Diplomacy in the Mekong: Drivers and Goals by Hongzhou Zhang

- Forced Displacement and Economic Development: Assessing the Impacts of China-Funded Projects in Myanmar by Julius Cesar I. Trajano

- Will the Benefits of Laos’s Future Hydropower Infrastructure Projects Outweigh the Costs? by Jose Ma. Luis Montesclaros

- China and the Politics of Energy Demand in the Mekong Region: Responses from Laos and Cambodia by Andrea Haefner and Sovinda Po

- Reassessing the Impact of Hydropower Development Project along the Mekong River Basin in Cambodia by Rasmeykanyka Bin and Ponleu Soun

- Vietnam’s Response to China’s Growing Dominance in the Mekong: A Quest for Harmonious Coexistence by Phan Xuan Dung

- Water Politics in the Mekong Region: Vietnam’s Position in the Stakeholder Power-Interest Grid by Nhi Le Phuong Cat and Nghia Huynh Ho Dai


Section 2: Trade, Economic Development, and Labour Migration

- Trade, FDI, and Growth in CLMV: Pre- and Post-Pandemic Evolution by Jayant Menon

- COVID-19 and Rural Development in the Mekong River Region: Case Studies from Thailand and Laos by Hermann Waibel, Chompunuch Nantajit, Phouvong Phami, and Somkid Naprom

- Water Politics in the Greater Mekong Subregion: Implications and Challenges on Thailand’s Border Trade and Inbound Labour Immigration by Upalat Korwatanasakul and Wannaphong Durongkaveroj

- Labour Migration in the Mekong Region: Cambodian Workers’ Mobility and Survival Strategies by Naomi Hatsukano

- Conclusion: The Responsibility to Protect by Frederick Kliem


Cristita Marie Perez

Cristita Marie Perez KAS

Senior Programme Manager, Regional Economic Programme Asia (SOPAS) +81 3 6426 5041