Is Water Part of the Tibet/China Conflict?

The Tibetan Plateau, source to great rivers (Brahmaputra, Ganges, Yellow, Yangtze, Indus, Irrawaddy, Mekong) in whose basins live well over 2 billion people, may be at the heart of the China-Tibet "debate."

Why? Water, that's why.

The region, at 2.5 million square kilometers about four times the size of Texas, covers almost 2% of the Earth's land surface. It is the world's biggest plateau, and has an average elevation of almost 15,000 feet (4500 meters). It plays a significant role in the climate of the planet. Its glaciers nourish the aforementioned rivers and others. And it is those glaciers that may be at the heart of China's "interest" in keeping Tibet on a tight leash.

Circle of Blue has an excellent about the strategic power of water in the China-Tibet debate (thanks to Eric Daigh).

Like many other resources, water is of great concern to China. I've previously posted on China's water issues: Three Gorges Dam; the Great South-to-North water transfer; Lake Balkhash.

The take-away: what with Tibtean Plateau glaciers shrinking because of climate change and China's water development plans, the Indians, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Bangladeshis, Burmese, et al. might have cause for concern.

And perhaps the rest of us, too.

"In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong, there is nothing that can surpass it." -- Lao-tze, 6th century BCE


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