China has to halt river data sharing as India infringes on sovereignty: experts

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BEIJING, Aug 21 (APP): China will not continue to carry out normal
cooperation on hydrological data of Yarlung Zangbo River, known as Brahmaputra after it flows into India, with Indian authorities, unless they agree to withdraw troops from Chinese territory in Doklam border area.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on trans-border
rivers in 2013 and India has since been briefed on data on the river’s upper reaches, according to experts here on Monday.
No government department has so far explained the reasons for the
alleged halt to the data sharing, but Chinese observers have pointed to the escalating tensions in Doklam.
“Although China is a responsible country, we can’t fulfill our
obligations to India when it shows no respect to our sovereignty,” said Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Hu added that China will not agree to carry out normal cooperation on
hydrological data with India, unless it agrees to withdraw troops from Doklam.
The military standoff between China and India in Doklam has lasted for
almost two months, and there is still no end in sight.
The upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo are in Southwest China’s Tibet
Autonomous Region, so China agreed to share hydrological data with India to help it prevent hydrological disasters such as flooding and drought, and carry out cooperation on the development and utilization of hydrological resources, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies observed.
He noted that India has always voiced concerns over China’s development
of the river, and tried to hype these projects in order to incite their people’s anti-China sentiment.
When the first section of the 9.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) Zangmu
Hydropower Station went into operation in November 2014, the Indian media went to great lengths to predict the station was likely to cause floods.
China has explained on various occasions that hydropower stations will
not affect flood control or the ecology of the lower reaches.
“Between India and China, despite the frequent rows over water,
conflicts remain limited to diplomatic tussles. However, India’s move of bringing up the sharing of hydrological data will exacerbate the already existing conflict between China and India,” Zhao said.
With an average altitude of 4,500 meters, the Yarlung Zangbo River is
the highest river in the world. It originates in the glacial regions of the northern Himalayas, runs 2,057 kilometers through southwest Tibet, passes into India and Bangladesh, and finally empties into the Indian Ocean in the Bay of Bengal.
Experts said that the Yarlung Zangbo is of vital importance to India and
Bangladesh, because locals use the water as a major source of irrigation, fish and electricity generation.
Some 20 percent of the Indian population still has no access to
electricity. In order to generate more power, India commenced the process of giving the green light to 14 hydro power projects in South Tibet, which India calls “Arunachal Pradesh,” most of which were lower down on the Brahmaputra.
By infringing on China’s sovereignty in Doklam, India has damaged the
mutual trust the two neighbors used to enjoy, and China will be hard pressed to cooperate with India on other issues without the mutual trust, said Zhao.
Experts also suggested that India should take other country’s interests
into consideration when it comes to the exploitation of the Brahmaputra.