China to 'Consider Interests of Other Countries' Before Finalising Brahmaputra Dam Project

China appears to be planning to build a 60 gigawatt hydropower project on the Brahmaputra, called Yarlung Zangbo in the country.

New Delhi: China on Wednesday stated that it will take into consideration the interests of “upstream and downstream countries” while finalising plans to develop a dam on Brahmaputra river, the Chinese embassy said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese state media had quoted the head of a Chinese company as saying that the country could build a 60 gigawatt hydropower project on the Brahmaputra river, which is known as Yarlung Tsangbo in China.

The Global Times had reported that Yan Zhiyong, chairman of state-owned Power Construction Corporation of China said at an industry conference held last week that China will “implement hydropower exploitation in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River”.

“There is no parallel in history. It will be a historic opportunity for the Chinese hydropower industry,” Yan stated.

The “60 million kWh hydropower exploitation at the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo” could play a “significant role in realising China’s goal of reaching a carbon emissions peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060,” he added.

“It is a project for national security, including water resources and domestic security,” he said, noting that the project will also ensure smooth cooperation with South Asia.

Two days after the publication of the report, Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong said that China will take into account interests of other countries before finalising the project. “Any project will undergo scientific planning and demonstration with full consideration for the impact on the downstream areas and the interests of both upstream and downstream countries”.

Asserting that China had always taken a “responsible attitude” towards development of cross-border rivers, Ji stated that currently the downstream development of the Yarlung Zangbo River “is still in the stage of preliminary planning and demonstration”.

“There is no need to over-interpret it,” she added.

The Chinese industry official had stated that the project proposal was put forward for formulating the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and its long-term goals through 2035 made by the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

These two documents were adopted by the CPC’s Plenum last month, but details were expected to be released after the formal ratification by National People’s Congress next year, PTI reported.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that India was planning to build a 10 gigawatts (GW) hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh to create a large water storage capacity to offset the impact of Chinese dams on flows.

“The need of the hour is to have a big dam in Arunachal Pradesh to mitigate the adverse impact of the Chinese dam projects… Our proposal is under consideration at the highest level in the government,” T.S. Mehra, Commissioner (Brahmaputra and Barak) in Ministry of Water Resources told Reuters.