By both direct and indirect observation, one can see that water security has turned into a serious issue faced by Southeast Asia now. Recent devastating floods in Thailand and Cambodia, severe droughts in Vietnam, and increasing water stress elsewhere in the region have become recurring regional headlines. As the main stakeholders, riparian states particularly have not been able to converge on a common approach to water security in Southeast Asia due to their varying interests. Certainly, this divergence of interests threatens to constitute a new destablizing factor in the overall water security context in Southeast Asia. China also has an increasing interest in the Mekong waterways for developing commercial and tourist activities in Southeast Asia and through Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Countries in the region need to foster relationships with inter-regional mechanisms, which deal with cooperation on water resource management such as the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM).
Dr. Le Dinh Tinh is Director General, Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), Hanoi.