Water as a Political Security Tool: The Himalaya’s Strategic Conundrum

Focus Asia February, 2021, pp. 8


Fresh water has no substitute, and its availability has been declining sharply around the globe. In Asia, China’s role as a multidirectional and trans-border water provider is debatable. Analysis of China’s behavior towards its trans-boundary rivers is, therefore, pivotal. This essay pits previously applied realist rationales against the more recent notion of de-securitization strategies. While de-securitization implies non- or de-escalation, it does not necessarily mean genuine long-term cooperation. The Brahmaputra River (BR) is an important trans-boundary river in South Asia, and its water resources are especially important to its four riparian countries, three of which are the most populous in the world. The future of Asia’s shared waters may thus be a contentious one. This piece examines the water issues in the BR and among the riparian countries, especially on conflict or co-operation between China, India, and Bangladesh, in order to gain a more detailed understanding of Sino-India-Bangladesh water cooperation in terms of the BR.

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