Friday, March 16, 2012

China, Japan and the Republic of Korea Have Agreed to Expand Cooperation on Water Management by Diao Ying

Chen Lei (center),minister of Water Resources, shakes hands with Han Man-hee (right), deputy minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Korea, and Okuda Ken, Japan's deputy minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism after signing a Memorandum on Tuesday in Marseille, France. Fu Jing / China Daily

China has established a minister level cooperation mechanism with Japan and the Republic of Korea as the three countries aim to tackle water problems together, officials announced on Tuesday.

The three countries signed the Memorandum of Cooperation on the Mechanism of Ministerial Meeting at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles, France, to deepen the coordination of the three countries in managing water resources and dealing with water disasters.

The mechanism will "unfold a new chapter for the cooperation between the three countries in the water sector", Chen Lei, China's water minister, said at the signing ceremony.

Water related risks, including floods and droughts, have become increasingly prominent and pose common challenges to the Asian-Pacific region, said Chen. China, Japan and the ROK are all situated in Northeast Asia and are separated only by a strip of water. They have long maintained exchanges and cooperation in the water field.

The three countries issued a joint statement in 2009 on the sustainable development of water issues, saying that they aim to establish a trilateral mechanism for cooperation in water resources, focusing on the management of river and water resources and adapting to climate changes.

Under the mechanism, China, Japan and the ROK will organize policy and strategic dialogues regularly at different levels. The three parties will also establish an information sharing system to exchange and share water related technologies and promote common development in these areas.

Chen also proposed that water research institutions from these countries conduct joint research projects in key areas such as water risk assessment, early warnings during flash floods, water and soil conservation and agricultural water saving technology. The three parties will also accelerate the application of these research outcomes and support government decision making.

"The signing of the MOC lays the foundation for a closer cooperative relationship through a regular high-level meeting," said Han Man-hee, deputy minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of the ROK.

"I expect that our three countries will actively participate in addressing global water issues beyond the Asia-Pacific region," Han said. 

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