The Mekong River is a lifeline for millions of people and home to the Mekong population of Irrawaddy dolphins. Now the dolphins face a new threat: neighboring Laos is planning to build a huge dam - with serious consequences for the environment.
As investment in hydropower and construction projects ramp up, ecosystems and communities along Southeast Asia's longest river are paying the price.
For years, the Laotian government has been pushing to make the country a major provider of hydroelectric power. Critics say that dams are being built in disregard of potential environmental dangers.
China is shoring up its sphere of influence in Southeast Asia through aid and investment. By funding infrastructure and development, China can increase its economic and strategic leverage over poorer neighbors.
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