China Plays Safe, Ready To Join Mechanism With India To Share Brahmaputra Waters

9:31 am 10 Oct, 2016


Putting aside the reports of a possible conflict with India by blocking a tributary of Brahmaputra river, Chinese official media has made it clear that Beijing is ready to join a multilateral cooperation mechanism with India and Bangladesh to share the waters.

An article in the state-run Global Times said that relations between China and India should not be affected by an “imaginary water war.”

Chhath Festival on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Dibrugarh, Assam mjmorrissey

Chhath Festival on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Dibrugarh, Assam mjmorrissey

It also said that Beijing is unlikely to use Brahmaputra river water as a potential weapon.

As of now China has no water treaty with India to share the river waters.

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“It is easy to understand the anger of Indian people as they read recent news reports saying China had blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river. Frankly, there is no need for India to overreact to such projects, which aim to help with reasonable development and utilisation of water resources,” it said.

The article said some local Indian media outlets linked the blockage with India’s recent water dispute with Pakistan, trying to create a false impression that China may be interested in taking part in the “so-called water wars.” It reminded that the construction of the dam project on the tributary of the Brahmaputra started in June 2014.

Chinese President Xi Jinpin japantimes

Chinese President Xi Jinpin japantimes

“It is clear the blockade to construct the dam does not target India, and relevant countries should not read too much into the move,” the write-up pointed out.

It said that China is the source of several trans-boundary rivers including the Lancang-Mekong River, which runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, it said, “If China blocked the Brahmaputra for political reasons, such a move would cause panic among the five Southeast Asian nations and therefore damage China’s relationship with them.”

The article said there are cooperation mechanisms for China and the five Southeast Asian countries that can help coordinate sustainable use of water resources in the Lancang-Mekong River and share information.

In an unexpected note, it however said that realistically, people may need to make efforts to persuade India, rather than China, to accept a multilateral cooperation.

Brahmaputra River at Dakua mygola

Brahmaputra River at Dakua mygola

The article also accused India of “making increasing efforts to exploit the Brahmaputra River through various forms”, in a bid to develop the river’s water resources.

“India may feel reluctant to establish a cooperation mechanism among the Brahmaputra’s riparian countries because such a mechanism is likely restrain India from moves that might hurt Bangladesh’s interests,” it said.

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