After troubling India militarily in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, Beijing could now hurt the South Asian country by drying up the crucial rivers that flow into the country through Tibet, as China is going ahead with building mega-dams on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo, which flows from Tibet into northeast India, according to Eurasia Times.
Beijing's control over the key rivers flowing into India gives it a chokehold on India's economy, effectively crippling India's interests in the North East region, the Eurasia Times pointed out.
The rivers emerging from the Tibetan plateau remain vital for about nine neighboring nations in the region and the disputes about the distribution of waters have lingered for decades.
Over the last seven decades, China has constructed more than 87,000 dams. Collectively they generate 352.26 GW of power, more than the capacities of Brazil, the United States, and Canada combined, according to the Diplomat.
The Tibetan plateau is a rich repository of indispensable freshwater resources that are shared across Asia. After damming most of its rivers, China is now casting its eyes on the major international rivers flowing out from the Tibetan plateau, heralding a new era of damming Tibet's rivers.
Tibet, known as the "Water Tower of Asia," serves as the source of 10 major Asian river systems flowing into 10 countries, including many of the most densely populated nations in the world: China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan.
Tibet is a plateau with an average elevation of 4,500 meters above sea level (14,800 feet).
China is moving ahead with its ambitious plan to expand the hydropower generation on the headwaters of Asia's major rivers the Yangtze, Yellow, Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong, and Salween Rivers.
India now fears Beijing could use dams and other water infrastructure as a strategic tool to expand its control over the region, analysts at South China Morning Post (SCMP) state.
Since 2010, China has planned hydropower projects on the river, known in India as the Brahmaputra, to harness energy in the middle reaches of the river. The Brahmaputra, know as the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan, is a major international river shared between Tibet, India, and Bangladesh. It stretches over a total length of 1,800 miles (2,900 km) from west to east.
China can also easily manipulate the river flow, which puts India at a strategically disadvantageous position.
The middle basin of the Yarlung river is closer to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - a 3,488 km unmarked de facto boundary between China and India that has seen decades of claims and counterclaims.
China's new plans for harnessing the lower basin could potentially dry up the resources of the river resulting in a significant challenge to the Indian needs.
"These (dam projects) have instigated worries in India as Chinese construction of dams close to the LAC, mixed with the India-China boundary disputes, assumes to be carrying strategic intents while creating a strategic divide between India and its Himalayan rivers," SCMP quoted Jagannath Panda, a research fellow at New Delhi's Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, as saying.
He also noted the Chinese foreign ministry's recent claim that Beijing had never recognized Arunachal Pradesh as an alarming sign that China might use the dams and other water infrastructure as "a strategic tool to expand its control over the region".
The two rival countries are signatories to the data-sharing treaty signed in 2008, for the Sutlej and Brahmaputra in order to better manage the shared watercourses. Agreements like these can have a positive effect on water management by helping to prepare for and control floods, but since China has access to the data, it could use this dependence to exploit India by withholding that hydrological data.
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