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Chinese intransigence on dam projects worries neighbors

June 22, 2011

I have written previously on China’s massive hydro electric plans for the upper Brahmaputra River and tributaries.  Despite the Chinese government’s recent admission to serious environmental problems stemming from the construction of the Three Gorges dam, and despite existing complaints from their downstream neighbors negatively effected by their extensive damming of the Mekong, China appears to be continuing with plans for as many as 24 new projects along the Brahmaputra.  A recent editorial in the Times of India blasted China for it’s “abhorrence of any proposal to share natural resources,” and listed a growing number of nations that have been effected by recent Chinese high-handedness (Russia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and India itself).

China, self-secure in its economic power, may be overplaying its hand.  With its aging population and flattening birthrate, the centralized economic system may be nearing the limits of it’s growth at the same time that it is almost forcing it’s neighbors into the balancing coalition (opens as a pdf file) that it has always feared.   Personally, I believe that Chinese power has reached or nearly reached it’s apex – we are at or approaching “Peak China,” to coin a phrase.   Of course, that neither diminishes it’s power nor does it make it less dangerous – remember, Germany reached its peak before it launched two world wars to challenge British hegemony.

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