China on Brahmaputra: ‘not for an imaginary water war’

China’s official media- the Global Times published an article explaining that the construction of a new dam across one of the tributaries of Brahmaputra is not a water war. The article says that China is ready to imitate the South East Asian water sharing agreement in Brahmaputra’s case so that the interest of the three countries through which the river flows – China, India and Bangladesh are protected.

The more talkative newspaper in its editorial pages mentioned that the reservoir’s capacity is just 0.2% of water flows through Brahmaputra. Addressing the Indian concerns, the newspaper used Brahmaputra throughout rather than its Tibetan name Yarlung Zangpo.

But the article makes a smart diversion saying that India is using Brahmaputra’s water at the expense of Bangladesh. The Bangladeshis can’t object to India because of its economic dependence on India.

China has been secretively constructing the dam across Brahmaputra that flows through Tibetan autonomous region, India and Bangladesh. There was no international consultation before the construction of the dam.

Lack of political good will enabled Beijing to go ahead with the project and only at the end of the construction phase, Chinese authorities issued press releases to Indian press about the dam construction. China had similar water issues with neighboring small countries of East Asia – Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong river. 

The Chinese argument goes on that Beijing will not use the Brahmaputra water in an exploitative way such that it may attract fear from its South East Asian neighbors.

“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.”

On the potential about the future agreement about Brahmaputra water the article says that – “We believe that China is willing to borrow from the experience of this mechanism when it comes to promoting cooperation among the Brahmaputra’s three major riparian countries. This will be the most effective solution to the water dispute between China and India.”