Trust Crisis and Building Trust in Transboundary Water Cooperation Along the Lancang-Mekong River
As China and the lower Mekong countries (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) strengthen their efforts regarding the development of water resources of the Lancang-Mekong River, the two parties are undergoing a growing trust crisis that is becoming a key obstacle to improving transboundary water cooperation. This chapter presents a theoretical and analytical framework of international trust for the purpose of analysis and resolution and then discusses three cases of mistrust between China and the lower Mekong countries involving the Mekong River drought, waterway security, and hydrological data sharing. In these cases, insufficient communication and information channels, neglecting trust mechanisms for maintaining cooperation, and choosing national interests over international trust are the main root causes of trust crisis in transboundary water cooperation. This chapter concludes by drawing from the literature on international trust building to propose several ways to build trust for transboundary water cooperation: easing the fundamental contradiction between national interests and international trust, establishing a sense of trust maintenance under the Lancang-Mekong River Cooperation Mechanism, and expanding communication and information channels for both parties to better understand each other and solve water issues together.
KeywordsInternational trust Trust crisis Mutual trust building Transboundary water cooperation Lancang-Mekong River
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