China is aware of its troops can not struggle and win decisively towards the battle hardened Indian army on a force-on-force foundation, because the Galwan valley clashes underscored. So, to comprise India, it has been making use of uneven warfare strategies to assault India’s weak factors, consistent with what Sun Tzu mentioned: “All warfare is primarily based on deception.”
India, as an alternative of taking a look at China’s new face of battle in totality and devising a complete and proactive counter-strategy, has introduced its safety below rising strain by way of a disjointed and fragmented method. Such is the absence of long-term strategic considering and planning that, every time China opens a new entrance or strain level, India searches for a stopgap or, worse nonetheless, seeks to paper over its weak spot.
China’s newly accredited Brahmaputra mega-project, which is able to dwarf its Three Gorges Dam by producing virtually thrice extra electrical energy, ought to shake India out of its advert hoc, compartmentalised method to Chinese aggression. The undertaking is to harness the pressure of a almost 3,000 metre drop within the Brahmaputra’s top when the river, simply earlier than getting into India, takes a U-turn across the Himalayas to type the world’s longest and steepest canyon. By getting down to dam the Brahmaputra there, China is searching for to successfully weaponise water towards India.
Unidentified Chinese upstream actions previously have triggered flash floods in Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and, extra just lately, turned the water within the once-pristine Siang – Brahmaputra’s fundamental artery – soiled and gray because it entered India. Indeed, such is China’s defiant unilateralism that, to finish a main dam undertaking, it halted the stream of a Brahmaputra tributary, the Xiabuqu, in 2016 after which began damming one other such tributary, the Lhasa River, into a collection of synthetic lakes.
In 2017, China overtly demonstrated its use of water as as a software of coercive diplomacy when, in breach of two bilateral accords, it punitively minimize off the stream of hydrological knowledge to India, an motion that undermined downstream flood early warning techniques, leading to preventable deaths in Assam. China reversed the info cutoff solely after the 2018 Wuhan summit, which was held following its seize of Doklam behind the duvet of the August 2017 disengagement settlement.
About a dozen small or medium sized Chinese dams are already operational on the Brahmaputra’s higher reaches. But with its dam constructing now shifting to the river’s India-bordering canyon area, China will have the ability to manipulate transboundary flows and leverage its declare to the adjoining Arunachal.
The severe implications, nevertheless, are being obscured by misinformation or ignorance. For instance, some in Indian coverage and tutorial circles have conjectured that the Brahmaputra collects the bigger share of its water in India. This water assortment is primarily restricted to the four-month monsoon season. Fluvial ecosystems rely upon perennial water sources, which, within the Brahmaputra’s case, are largely in Tibet.
The Brahmaputra, the world’s highest altitude river, gathers extraordinarily wealthy silt in its virtually 2,200km Himalayan run. The silt wealthy water from Tibet, not monsoon water assortment, is central to the river’s distinctive hydrology and biodiversity help. The canyon mega-project, just like the Three Gorges Dam, will entice downstream stream of nutrient-rich silt. It’ll additionally disrupt the Brahmaputra’s annual flooding cycle, which helps to re-fertilise farmland naturally by spreading silt, apart from opening large fish nurseries. That, in flip, is prone to trigger subsidence and salinity within the Brahmaputra-Ganges-Meghna delta.
In the Mekong Basin, the environmental havoc unleashed by China’s upstream large dams is changing into more and more obvious. The environmental devastation could possibly be worse within the Brahmaputra basin, particularly in densely populated Bangladesh, triggering a higher exodus of refugees to India, which is already dwelling to numerous hundreds of thousands of illegally settled Bangladeshis.
The Brahmaputra mega-dam, ominously, might be in-built a seismically lively space, thus implying a ticking “water bomb” for downstream communities. The dictatorship in Beijing is not deterred even by the very fact that the undertaking will desecrate territory that is sacred to Tibetans: the foremost mountains, cliffs and caves within the canyon area, identified regionally as Pemako, or the “Hidden Lotus Land”, signify the physique of their guardian deity, the goddess Dorje Pagmo (Vajravarahi in Sanskrit), and the Brahmaputra represents her backbone.
The increasing water battle is clearly a part of China’s built-in, multidimensional technique towards India, which seeks to make use of all obtainable means in need of open battle. Its unconventional battle is profoundly impacting each core Indian curiosity. To cope with this structural problem, India, in Sun Tzu model, should give China a style of its personal drugs. Two US reviews, The Longer Telegram (printed by the Atlantic Council) and the state division’s The Elements of the China Challenge, underline the crucial to focus on China’s weak spots.
India has little alternative however to asymmetrically out-compete China’s uneven battle by exploiting its inner vulnerabilities, fissures and fragilities, together with in Tibet, the primary launchpad for its unconventional warfare. India has the capabilities to outwit and deter China; what it wants is the imaginative and prescient and resolve.
Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist