India’s efforts to exploit Brahmaputra waters may have harmed Bangladesh’s interests: China’s state-run media

India’s “increasing efforts to exploit the Brahmaputra river through various forms,” may have harmed Bangladesh’s interests, China’s state-run media said today. And Bangladesh, Global Times wrote, can’t do anything about it because it is economically dependent on India, which takes away its “bargaining power.”

These statements from the government-run media come in the wake of reports that China is blocking a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, for what it says is its most expensive hydroelectric project ever. There has been concern in India that this would block Arunachal Pradesh’s and Assam’s access to this water that comes to it downstream from Tibet.

There was no need for India to “overreact” to news about China’s decision, Global Times wrote. It’s “easy to understand the anger of Indian people as they read recent news reports saying China had blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra River,” but Indians are ignoring the fact that the capacity of the dam’s reservoir is lower than 0.02 per cent of the Brahmaputra’s annual run-off, the state-run news service said.

On Saturday too, the Chinese Foreign Ministry wrote to PTI saying China’s hydroelectric project couldn’t have “an adverse impact on the downstream .” It added that China had “always held a responsible attitude towards exploitation of water resources of the Yarlung Zangbo (a Tibetan name for the Brahmaputra).”
Today’s editorial also said that China blocking the tributary has nothing to do with Beijing taking Islamabad’s side following the Uri terror attack last month. Following the attack, there was talk India might revise the Indus water-sharing treaty with Pakistan.

“The construction of the dam project on the tributary of the Brahmaputra started in June 2014,” Global Times said, indicating that is proof China isn’t participating in any water wars between India and Pakistan.

It added that China was the source of many trans-boundary rivers, and that any attempt it made to use a blockade on the Brahmaputra as a political weapon would alarm countries into which other Chinese rivers flow.

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