Headwaters

Recent reports from a Chinese research team identifies the origins of the Indus, the life-blood river that runs almost the length of Pakistan, lie on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plain high in the Himalayas. In that same region, Greater Himalaya, the origins of  the Brahmaputra, the Mekong, Yangtze, Salween, Yellow River and the Irrawaddy can be found. The tributaries that feed the Ganges, too, are there along with a growing team of scientists, engineers, politicians and policemen.

China, short on energy for its growing economy, intends to double it supplies over the next ten years and, it says, it intends to do that without burning oil, coal, or natural gas. China says it wants renewables. It wants solar, wind,  and tidal, but most of all it wants hydroelectric. It wants to tap into the masses of water coming off the peaks of the planet to generate electricity, and to deliver some water to its arid northern areas but that might not be all. It might be more than an hydraulic power grab; it might also be an eco-political power grab. It might just be a device to control the water supply of nearly 2 billion people: Imagine that.

Imagine how it would  be if one government, 5 – 9 members of the politburo, controlled the water supplies of all those nations downstream of their damns. With so much power in the hands of so few absolute corruption will surely follow.

There is a need then for all the nations concerned to work with China in order to have an input in regard to their own needs, and to find the reassurances necessary to prevent conflicts. As to how China can bring its projects to fruition if it has to seek approval from governments unable to settle their own, internal, squabbles, let alone their endless border battles, is likely to be solved in the traditional fashion of corruption and heavy handed enforcement. So what we are likely to see in the guise of reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses is the same high level corruption, and bully-boy suppression of local objections, found in Mongolia from where China is importing 85% of the growing coal and copper production. In the southern part of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert 2,000, off road, 100 tonne trucks work all day everyday to serve the mega mines ripping copper and coal from the desert for customers in China. The dust levels alone make the region uninhabitable by the indigenous goat and sheep herders who now have to move on, or move into, the industrial world Mongolia is rapidly becoming.

China says it stands by its five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence that includes not interfering in the domestic affairs of other, sovereign, nations. Quite how that equates with wrecking the environment to the point of rendering areas of Southern Mongolia uninhabitable is hard to see. Equally hard to see under its principle of non interference will be the diversion of rivers and the vast areas that will become flooded, and therefore equally uninhabitable, when it exercises its, perceived, sovereign rights up there on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plain.

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