Tibet’s Third Pole

Uttam Kumar Sinha has an op-ed in the Washington Post today about Tibet and its importance has the watershed for most of Asia. Sinha makes the case that the Chinese government should not be the only stakeholder deciding policies that determine what happens to water originating in Tibet. Sinha writes:

China’s moves to encroach on Tibet’s water need to be countered by downriver solidarity that includes agreement on multipurpose beneficial use of these resources. Downriver states need to work through legal norms of equitable utilization, “no-harm” policies and restricted Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. This pressure and international attention to defining such vital resources as common would go a long way toward preserving and sharing the waters of Tibet. While such redefinition is politically sensitive, as it clashes with national jurisdiction, it merits attention now given the current and future water requirements of South and Southeast Asia. Collective political and diplomatic pressure over a sustained period will be needed to draw in China to regional arrangements on “reasonable share of water” and frame treaties accordingly.

Two things that I can say with some certainty is that the current Chinese regime is unlikely to ever be a good partner with downstream countries. They have their own needs and historic Han nationalism which continues to exist in the current regime makes it unlikely that they will place the needs of people in India, Burma, Bangladesh, Vietnam or anywhere else in Asia ahead of the needs of their restless population. The other thing I’m sure of is that if Tibet were an independent nation state, under Tibetan rule, the challenges facing Asia and water management would be resolved in a way that benefited both Tibet and downstream states.

Add the water needs of 2 billion Asian people as another reason in the long list of reasons why Tibet should and must be free.

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