South Asia’s “Tower of Water” and the Potential for Conflict

August 19, 2013

The most recent issue of the journal Asia Policyhas a special section focusing on water issues in South and Southeast Asia.   While talk of “water wars” might be hyperbolic, the likelihood of tension and conflict short of war is a geopolitical reality of the situation – nearly half the world’s population is dependent on waters which rise in the Himalayas and course across the continent.  China controls the headwaters of these rivers and is aggressively building dams to generate power and irrigation flows for its own development, leaving its downstream neighbors nervous.   This water issue features seven essays examining the issues from various perspectives, including the geopolitical angle and the prospects for conflict.  Of course, control of the rivers waters also gives China unique diplomatic power in the region, as well.  The essays are available in their entirety until September 15 and the entire issue is highly recommended.

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