Victim mentality motivates scholar to accuse China of denying data to India

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/12 23:33:39

India seems to view whatever China does as suspicious and deem it a threat, like a victim of persecutory delusion. Brahma Chellaney, an Indian strategic professor, criticized China for withholding hydrological data on upstream flows so as to pressure downstream countries, especially India, in an article published Tuesday on the Project Syndicate.

Chellaney has more than once accused China of seeking hydrological hegemony in water-starved Asia. This time his new evidence was China's not sharing hydrological data with India this year, saying this undermined the efficacy of India's flood early-warning systems during summer monsoon season that northeastern India was hit by unprecedented flooding by the Brahmaputra River with devastating consequences, particularly in Assam state. But India's Ministry of External Affairs said it was "premature" to link the data-sharing with the floods in Assam.

Indian media outlets in August linked the data denial with the Doklam standoff. The Chinese foreign ministry later clarified that the flood-damaged hydrological stations in China could not collect data this year due to reconstruction.

But Chellaney insisted China denied the data to punish India "for condemning China's massive, cross-border infrastructure agenda as an opaque, neocolonial enterprise." In fact, Assam has been struck by floods almost every year in recent years and the rest of India has been accused of being apathetic to the tragedy there. Now that China is involved, the flooding becomes an important proof. On the other hand, there are no grounds for blame even if China withheld the data over the standoff. How can India expect bilateral cooperation to continue like normal when it infringes upon China's sovereignty?

Chellaney also accused China of building upstream dams on international rivers to control downstream neighbors, especially Nepal and Kazakhstan. India has been criticized for the exact same infraction by Bangladesh, but largely ignores its complaint.

The dams built by China along the Lancang River have prevented downstream countries from being hit by drought and floods. Countries like Vietnam and Cambodia have hence showed their gratitude toward China.  Yet when China built hydrological monitoring stations in cold, inhospitable mountainous areas to provide data for India, the response was yet more whining.

Even inside a country, managing a river often involves multiple stakeholders and various local difficulties. Thus it is crucial for countries to cooperate on cross-border issues. But if India goes with Chellaney's view despite all China's best efforts, it will undermine possible opportunities for improved bilateral cooperation and mutual trust. In which case India will be the only one to suffer.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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