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India's concern over Brahmaputra threat mongering: Chinese scholar

world Updated: Oct 09, 2013 16:26 IST

India highlighting its concerns over China building dams on the Brahmaputra are an attempt to "gain control of disputed territories" - a reference to Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India - by acquiring "more international support", a Chinese scholar has argued.

Li Zhifei, an assistant research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy think tank, says the "feud over water resource allocation has sparked more claims in India that China poses a threat to the security of other countries".

"Moreover, India also relates the contention over water resources to its border dispute with China."

"It attempts to gain control of disputed territories by acquiring more international support and actual control on the ground through the development of the water resources in related areas," Li says in an article in the state-owned Global Times, a tabloid published by the People's Daily. The article is titled 'Indian threat-mongering over water resource disputes dangerous fantasy'.

Li writes: "India plans to build reservoirs and canal systems on the Brahmaputra River with an intention to transfer "surplus" water to regions with water shortages."

"Furthermore, India has already set up dozens of hydropower stations in the so-called Arunachal Pradesh, attempting to reinforce its actual control and occupation of the disputed area."

He writes that China's building of hydropower systems upstream on the Brahmaputra, or Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known, would cause less water to flow to India "causing negative effects on the water use for its industrial and agricultural sectors which are mainly located in the basin of the Ganges river".

"Therefore, China's control of the allocation of water means, from the Indian perspective, China will exert substantial economic influence upon the rising South Asian power."

"India imagines that if China draws off water in the reservoirs on the Yarlung Zangbo River, it will become swampland."

He continues: "The country also contends that China will probably carry out interceptions during dry seasons and discharges during rainy days as means to impose pressure on the Indian government, and that once a conflict takes place, Beijing is likely to raise water levels to cut off communications or drown enemy troops."

In this light "therefore, India assumes that China's building dams on the Yarlung Zangbo River poses a serious threat to its national security."

Li says while "China stresses peaceful rise, and tries to build up a win-win situation" on the issue of water resource disputes", India "in contrast has been critical of China in the upper stream by protesting against this imaginary enemy and trying to gain sympathy and support from the international community".

Playing up Bangladesh's concerns, Li writes that India while protesting Beijing's dams has "totally disregarded the interests of Bangladesh in the lower reaches through its own exploitative usage".

"Beijing adopts a rational and restricted attitude toward India's domestic attacks on China's utilization of water resources".

The scholar says India hopes to put more pressure on China "by exaggerating the facts and drawing attention from the international community, with the intention of preventing China from developing Tibetan water resources".

He concludes that "China should firmly resist such remarks and actions, and actively seek to address disputes through following the principles of peaceful negotiation and cooperation".

The comments come as China is proceeding with the construction of four hydropower dams on the Brahmaputra.

The first unit of the Zangmu Hydropower Station on the bend of the Brahmaputra where it enters India is scheduled to begin operations in 2014.

India and China have an agreement on sharing hydrological data to monitor water flow in the river.