Accession Number:



Peering Through the Surface of a Water War Between China and India

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,01 Oct 2015,04 Apr 2016

Corporate Author:

Joint Forces Staff College Norfolk United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This paper examines the likelihood of water insecurity causing war between China and India. It presents the result of a analysis of factors that could contribute to armed conflict between the two states. The results are that while water insecurity by itself will most likely not lead to war, water insecurity when coupled with other factors at the international and domestic level, will increase the likelihood of war. These factors are increasing water scarcity at the source transnational rivers increased water insecurity in the upstream state China linkages between water insecurity and national sovereignty and decreasing political stability in the upstream state. This paper demonstrates that these conditions do exist, and thus, there is increasing likelihood of a water war between China and India. The glaciers in Tibet are indeed melting at a faster rate, and coupled with Chinas growing water scarcity and its widening north south water gap, it will face growing pressure to go through with its upstream water diversion plan. This of course, will threaten India, and given that the downstream portion of the Brahmaputra flows through a disputed area with strong linkages to national sovereignty, it will cause India to increase its security posture in the region. As Chinas economy continues its downward trajectory, it will threaten the CCPs ability to pursue foreign policy uninfluenced by popular nationalism. All of these trends taken together will increase the likelihood of war between China and India.

Subject Categories:

Distribution Statement: