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The Brahmaputra Diversion and the Tsinghai Clique
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Claude Arpi | Date:16 Apr , 2018 2 Comments
Claude Arpi
Writes regularly on Tibet, China, India and Indo-French relations. He is the author of 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga, Tibet: The Lost Frontier and Dharamshala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were.

The Diversion Scheme

Some fifteen years ago, a Chinese engineer Li Ling and a retired PLA General Gao Kai, seriously worked on a scheme for the diversion of the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra. Li Ling published a book called Tibet’s Waters will Save China in which he detailed the diversion project, also known as Shuomatan Canal (from Suma Tan in Central Tibet to Tanjing in China).

At that time, ‘experts’ denounced the plans of Li Ling and Gao Kai.

Beijing also decided to cool down India’s legitimate worries.

In 2006, the Chinese Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng, a hydraulic engineer, affirmed that the proposal was “unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific. There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects.”

He however admitted that there a plan in the drawers, but “the project involves major financial and technical difficulties”.

Wang further explained: “For example, we must keep an eye on possible floods when the Yellow River has 58 billion cubic metres of water. If another 50 billion cubic metres, not to mention 200 billion, is poured in, I am sure all the dams and protection embankments will be destroyed immediately.”

He added: “the cost of diverting water from the Yarlung Zangbo would be much more expensive than any of the current water projects.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao also confirmed: “The Chinese government has no plans to build a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River (the China part of the Brahmaputra) to divert water to the Yellow River.”

Qin Hui, a professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University declared: “We have to take the international response into consideration. It is undoubted that the lower reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River are within India’s Assam Province, where it is a lifeline for local agriculture and backbone of the economy, just as it is further downstream in Bangladesh.”

The Chinese media also criticized Li Ling’s book Tibet’s water will Save China.

Nobody took the project too seriously.

The new scheme

Today the situation is different, Prof Wang Hao mentioned in my article is the main proponent the new diversion scheme; he is Chairman of the Expert Group on Dialogue for the ‘Red Flag River Issue’.

Wang is a respected academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and honorary director of the Water Resources Institute of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research. He is also Vice President for China of the Global Water Partnership; Deputy-Director, Academic Commission of China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) and a member of the Science & Technology Committee of the Ministry of Water Resources.

He is an alumnus of the famous Tsinghua University.

He did his B.Sc. on Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, from the Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University (April 1978-July 1982) and his M.Sc. on Hydrology and Water Resources from the Department of Hydraulic Engineering, (August 1982-March 1985).

Later he earned his PhD in System Engineering from the Institute of Economics and Management of the same Tsinghua University.

Tsinghua University

For more on Tsinghua University, let us have a look at Wikipedia:

When the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, many university students walked out of the classrooms, and some went on to be part of the Red Guards, resulting in the complete shutdown of the university. It was not until 1978, after the Cultural Revolution had ended, that the university began to take in students again. Even so, Tsinghua University remained in the top tier of schools in China.

Wikipedia further explains:

Since the 1980s, the university has incorporated a multidisciplinary system. As a result, several schools were re-incorporated. These included the School of Sciences, the School of Economics and Management, the School of Life Sciences, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Tsinghua Law School, the School of Public Policy and Management, and the Academy of Arts and Design.

Chen Xi

Who was seating on the same benches than Wang Hao when the University reopened after the Cultural Revolution?

One Chen Xi was there.

Chen is today member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China. Chen is also Secretary of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China, and President of the Central Party School.

From 2002 to 2008, Chen served as the party chief of the University. Later he was vice-minister of education and Vice Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology.

Wang and Chen know each other from the 1970s.

Wikipedia says:

“Chen was recommended to attend the prestigious Tsinghua University as a ‘Worker-Peasant-Soldier student’, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. At Tsinghua he was friends with Xi Jinping, who was also attending Tsinghua at the time.

Chen had joined the Communist Party in November 1978. After graduating from Tsinghua he returned to Fuzhou University to become a lecturer. In September 1979 he headed back to Tsinghua where he completed a Masters of Science degree. He stayed at Tsinghua to work for the Communist Party and its affiliated Youth League as a political organizer.”

Incidentally, Chen was born in September 1953, Prof Wang is a month younger.

Another well-known Tsinghua Graduate

Another famous alumnus from Tsinghai University is born in 1953 (June).

His name is Xi Jinping.

His closeness with Chen from their student’s days explains the latter’s quick promotion to the politburo.  Let us quote Wikipedia again:

Xi Jinping 
From 1975 to 1979, Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University as a ‘Worker-Peasant-Soldier student’, where engineering majors spent about one-fifth of their time studying Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong thought, doing farm work and “learning from the People’s Liberation Army”.

The present diversion scheme

That is why the present diversion scheme is far more serious than the previous one(s); he may have the backing of many in the academic world and the Party.

The scheme, presented by Wang Hao and his group of scientists, should not be dismissed like the previous one prepared by two old nationalist fools (Li Ling-Gao Kai Plan).

Further, as mentioned in yesterday’s article. China has tremendously progressed in the technological field, making it easier to realize on the project ground.

The problem is the project economically feasible?

Certainly not, but if big shots are behind…


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2 thoughts on “The Brahmaputra Diversion and the Tsinghai Clique

  1. Oh Mr. Apri

    60% of water in Brahmaputra is from rains falling on Indian hills and not from Tibet.

    Yes, during dry season that water in Tibet does make up the difference. The problem is solved by storing the access water. This proposal is already being worked on.

    Now imagine the transport of water thru tunnels and dry river beds 3,000 miles to eastern China. It is ten times bigger project than the three gorges dam. Moreover 30-40% of water will be lost during transportation thru tunnels and dry river beds. Then this will be a worthless project with heavy expense and low return.

    But I wish that the Chinese undertake this project like OBOR and spend their surplus cash. Only then some of their over confidence will be knocked out.

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