China's state-run Global Times today said Beijing was ready to enter into a multilateral deal with India and Bangladesh to share water from the Brahmaputra river.
In an editorial titled "No need for concern in India over China's blockage of Brahmaputra River tributary", the paper highlighted that the dam for which China had "temporarily" blocked a tributary of the river in Tibet had a capacity of "less than 0.02 per cent of the average annual runoff of the Brahmaputra" (See: Lalho dam not to affect Brahmaputra water flow: China).
"Frankly, there is no need for India to overreact to such projects, which aim to help with reasonable development and utilisation of water resources," the editorial said. It added that Indian media houses were "trying to create a false impression" by suggesting China's move to block the tributary is a "silent show of support" for Pakistan in its dispute with India over the Indus Waters Treaty. "The construction of the dam project on the tributary of the Brahmaputra started in June 2014," the article said.
The editorial said China is willing to follow a system similar to the one it has put in place with Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to share water from the Lancang-Mekong river. "This will be the most effective solution to the water dispute between China and India," the article said, while accusing India of "making increasing efforts to exploit the Brahmaputra river in recent years".
China had blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra – Xiabuqu – in Tibet on 1 October to construct its Lalho hydro project, believed to be China's most expensive hydropower undertaking.
It is expected to be completed in 2019. A sum of 4.95 billion yuan (Rs 4,923 crore) has been earmarked for it in Tibet's Xigaze region. Xigaze is about 200 km from Sikkim, and it is from here that the Brahmaputra enters Arunachal Pradesh.