Thursday, 14 April 2016

China's Water Diplomacy:Co-operation or Conflict?

   Tibet is known as the water tank of Asia. The Mekong, known as Lancang in China, flows from Tibetan plateau through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before reaching the Sea. It sustains a population of 326m in peninsular South East Asia. It is Asia's 7th largest river.
  *China has already built 6 out of planned 15 dams on Mekong on its territory. It can thus 'control' the water flow.
  *The five Mekong delta states are suffering from unprecedented drought. China has agreed to release emergency water supplies starting from 10April 2016. Water release will give immediate relief to drought stricken region.
  * China held first Lancang-Mekong leaders meeting on Hainan island and offered UD$1.54b in preferential loans and credit line of US$10b to support infrastructure and capacity building in the five states.
  * China's agenda is to promote connectivity, border trade, water resource management and agricultural co-operation.
  * There is no doubt that China wishes to set the agenda, establish its own rules and institutions so that it can dominate the economies of the region. It seeks to bye-pass international conventions on upper and lower riparian rights.
  *With the building of the dams on its own territory on the Mekong, all five South-East Asian states would be obliged to China in any future requirements.
  * China is the biggest trading partner of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Bilateral trade with the five states amounted to US$193.9b. China is also the largest investor.
  * Even if the five states wished for external security assistance, it is difficult; for the US is a maritime military power and cannot compete with China on peninsular South-East Asia.

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