A Hong Kong-based publication on Monday claimed that China is testing ways to divert water from Brahmaputra in Tibet to the parched Xinjiang region. Such a move is likely to encounter India’s protest as the Brahmaputra is a major river system in the strategically important North East.
This is the latest among a series of incidents recently where China’s interests have clashed with those of India.
Doka La – Sikkim border standoff
The standoff at the Bhutan-Sikkim-Tibet tri-junction began on 16 June when the Indian Army protested the Chinese troops constructing a road at Doka La, a Bhutanese territory which is also claimed by China. On the behalf of Bhutan, India then sent its bulldozers to physically stop the construction. The standoff at Doka La continued for over two months.
Just nine days after the standoff began, China stopped the movement of the first batch of Kailash Manasarovar yatris. The standoff created a huge political furore in India, with the Opposition targetting the Narendra Modi government for its handling of the situation. However, addressing the Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj badured the Opposition that “India is capable of defending itself”.
The media of the two nations, too, added to the standoff. Chinese media’s “belligerent” stance on the issue, accusing New Delhi of trespbading into Chinese territory, did not make matters pleasant. One of the editorial also went to the extent of reminding India of the 1962 debacle.
China’s provocation continued as on 29 June, the Chinese foreign ministry released a map which showed the disputed tri-junction area as part of China.
While no diplomatic solution seemed to be in sight, China on 18 July urged India to withdraw its troops from the area and claimed that Indian troops were camping at least 80 metres inside the Chinese territory.
However, on 28 August, just three days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to embark for the BRICS Summit in China, both nations decided to mutually disengage their troops at the tri-junction.
A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Getty Images
On Monday, China said that it would block a resolution at the United Nations this week to declare Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar an international terrorist.
China, in the past too, has blocked attempts by India and the US to declare Azhar an international terrorist.
Beijing had put a technical hold on the proposal last year which remained till August. Beijing then extended it further for three months.
China’s ‘no’ to the US proposal means that a new resolution will have to be moved. Minus China, all the countries of the 15-member Security Council are on board to ban Azhar, who heads the Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit.
China’s refusal to pbad the resolution is reportedly frustrating India and the US, who want him punished. Azhar is accused of several terror attacks including the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.
China’s move is being seen as an attempt to sheild its “all-weather” ally Islamabad, which has been accused of harbouring terror outfits by India.
Defending Pakistan over terror charges
On 26 September, just a day after India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj criticised Pakistan for exporting terrorism at the 72nd session of the UNGA, the Chinese state media slammed her speech, calling it “politically imbecilic and unsophisticated”.
“There is indeed terrorism in Pakistan. But is supporting terror the country’s national policy? What can Pakistan gain from exporting terrorism? Money or honour? Is India really an IT superpower that produces engineers and doctors when it is hell-bent on believing Pakistan is evil?,” an editorial in the Global Times said.
OBOR project infringing upon India’s sovereignty
As part of President Xi Jinping’s dream project to rejuvenate a new silk route across Asia, the Chinese government kick-started the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
Most of India’s neighbours, including Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan, have signed up for the multi-nation infrastructure project, which is worth at least $4 trillion. However, India refused to do so following sovereignty concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC pbades through Pakistan occupied Kashmir before ending at Gwadar port in Balochistan.
On 14 May, no Indian delegation was seen at the opening ceremony, which was addressed by Xi. “…No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the then Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Bagley said.
Water wars over Brahmaputra
India’s concerns over Chinese dam building over the Brahmaputra is not new. In the latest move, China plans to build a 1,000 kilometre underground tunnel to divert water from the river to Xinjiang province.
The move, that is expected to “turn Xinjiang into California”, has raised concerns among environmentalists about its likely impact on the Himalayan region.
India’s concerns over the river project is due to the fact that there are no bilateral or multilateral treaties on the water. According to Economic Times, the dam building will help China badert its claim over Arunachal Pradesh and also reduce river flows into India.
India’s fear of Chinese control over Brahmaputra river was first seen on 12 September this year when Beijing said that it cannot share hydrological data of the river with India as the data collection station in Tibet is being upgraded.
With inputs from agencies