Hydro-control turning China into dreaded hydra?

The Mekong River, whose water level last March dropped to only 33 centimetres, the lowest in 50 years. People living downriver in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia attributed the fall in water level to newly constructed dams in China. Retrieved from: www.bangkokpost.com

“Asia’s water map fundamentally changed after the 1949 Communist victory in China. Most of Asia’s important international rivers originate in territories that were forcibly annexed to the People’s Republic of China. The Tibetan Plateau, for example, is the world’s largest freshwater repository and the source of Asia’s greatest rivers, including those that are the lifeblood for mainland China and South and Southeast Asia. Other such Chinese territories contain the headwaters of rivers like the Irtysh, Illy and Amur, which flow to Russia and Central Asia.

This makes China the source of cross-border water flows to the largest number of countries in the world. Yet China rejects the very notion of water sharing or institutionalised cooperation with downriver countries. Whereas riparian neighbours in Southeast and South Asia are bound by water pacts that they have negotiated between themselves, China does not have a single water treaty with any co-riparian country. Indeed, having its cake and eating it, China is a dialogue partner but not a member of the Mekong River Commission, underscoring its intent not to abide by the Mekong basin community’s rules or take on any legal obligations.

Worse, while promoting multilateralism on the world stage, China has given the cold shoulder to multilateral cooperation among river-basin states. The lower-Mekong countries, for example, view China’s strategy as an attempt to “divide and conquer”. Although China publicly favours bilateral initiatives over multilateral institutions in addressing water issues, it has not shown any real enthusiasm for meaningful bilateral action. As a result, water has increasingly become a new political divide in the country’s relations with neighbours like India, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Nepal.

China deflects attention from its refusal to share water, or to enter into institutionalised cooperation to manage common rivers sustainably, by flaunting the accords that it has signed on sharing flow statistics with riparian neighbours. These are not agreements to cooperate on shared resources, but rather commercial accords to sell hydrological data that other upstream countries provide free to downriver states.”

Read more: Bangkok Post


1 Response to “Hydro-control turning China into dreaded hydra?”

  • What most people do not see is that China has without a doubt, long term territorial ambitions. All lands, whether they are independent states now or part of another nation, are regarded by the Commanders of the P.L.A as part of China. Though one might think that some of these claims are ludicrous, it appears to be a sad and very dangerous fact. Evidence, of Chinese territorial ambitions that include the entirety of South East Asia, the Indonesian Archipelago,in official map collections. Australia and New Zealand, have surfaced as the result of espionage. Although this attitude has surfaced in scattered parts,including the presence of old Chinese Imperial maps going back to the Yuan Dynasty, no official denial to any such claims have been made by the PLA, who have occupied and fortified parts of the Spratley Islands. The General Staff of the People’s Liberation army, the “Praetorian Guards” of China, who, are the real rulers. The world needs assurances that China will not use water as a weapon in the coming years. The control of water, considered of national importance even as Mao’s forces were ‘moping up’ KMT enclaves in 1949, has always been an important part of Chinese International policy . Water is and has always been the ‘critical resource’. With the world population reaching 7 billion, control of water will mean control of populations and land. When the People’s Republic of China was finally seated as the true China at the United Nations, now nearly thirty years ago, it was hoped that China would act as a responsible citizen of the world. That action is long overdue, and the orderly drawing up of fair agreements respecting all downstream natiions’ rights is long overdue. Not to do so takes on the appearance of a trade war. Does the Chinese economy really want that? Their actions are leaving their neighbors with no options.

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