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Lake Baikal

Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,071
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3/16/2016 12:13:04 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
I had the idea for this thread whenever I saw a news article that said something like "China releases waters from dams to help Vietnam with drought". The water was less available because the water that most of Southeast Asia depends on comes from the Tibetan Plateau, which is under Chinese control and China had constructed dams for hydroelectric power purposes. This article was a demonstration of the kind of leverage that control over water grants you in a region of the world where such a resource is not taken for granted.

If you consult a world map you'll notice that body of water located right above Mongolia. It is called Lake Baikal and it is the largest freshwater lake by volume, containing 20% of the world's unfrozen surface freshwater. The water is drinkable, and bottled water from the lake has been sold if I'm not mistaken. All that water belongs to Russia.
Russia does, however, have the fortune/misfortune of being neighbors with China, a state that has 1.4 billion people and a shrinking drinkable water supply. According to one source they'll run out of local drinking water by 2030. If a country as dense as China runs out of water, well, a billion people could be screwed.
There are several things China can do to alleviate this problem. It can try to clean up its water supply, but the CPC doesn't really seem interested in doing that for whatever reason. Another option is for China to say "All the water in the Tibetan Plateau is now ours!" and prevent any of the water from flowing into countries to its South (such as Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, BANGLADESH, etc) that depend on the water for everyday survival (through its many hydroelectric dams it is already doing this to an extent). This would probably be enough to spark WWIII, seeing as how the survival of the countries directly affected was at stake and the international community would be angry at China like it has never been before. In the meantime, increasing fear for their water security could help drive Southeast Asia closer to the US or closer to China.
OR, Lake Baikal can supply China with water. This could strengthen the Sino-Russian relationship considerably and give Russia massive amounts of leverage against China (after a while it would reach a point where if they stopped selling water the Chinese people would die in droves while the Russians would just suffer a mild loss to their economy). OR, it could drive China to invade southeastern Russia to seize Lake Baikal, tearing to shreds completely the idea of Sino-Russian cooperation in establishing a new world order.
How do you think Lake Baikal will become significant in Sino-Russian relations or the world at large in the future, if at all?
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Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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3/16/2016 3:00:30 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/16/2016 12:13:04 AM, Vox_Veritas wrote:
I had the idea for this thread whenever I saw a news article that said something like "China releases waters from dams to help Vietnam with drought". The water was less available because the water that most of Southeast Asia depends on comes from the Tibetan Plateau, which is under Chinese control and China had constructed dams for hydroelectric power purposes. This article was a demonstration of the kind of leverage that control over water grants you in a region of the world where such a resource is not taken for granted.

If you consult a world map you'll notice that body of water located right above Mongolia. It is called Lake Baikal and it is the largest freshwater lake by volume, containing 20% of the world's unfrozen surface freshwater. The water is drinkable, and bottled water from the lake has been sold if I'm not mistaken. All that water belongs to Russia.
Russia does, however, have the fortune/misfortune of being neighbors with China, a state that has 1.4 billion people and a shrinking drinkable water supply. According to one source they'll run out of local drinking water by 2030. If a country as dense as China runs out of water, well, a billion people could be screwed.
There are several things China can do to alleviate this problem. It can try to clean up its water supply, but the CPC doesn't really seem interested in doing that for whatever reason. Another option is for China to say "All the water in the Tibetan Plateau is now ours!" and prevent any of the water from flowing into countries to its South (such as Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, BANGLADESH, etc) that depend on the water for everyday survival (through its many hydroelectric dams it is already doing this to an extent). This would probably be enough to spark WWIII, seeing as how the survival of the countries directly affected was at stake and the international community would be angry at China like it has never been before. In the meantime, increasing fear for their water security could help drive Southeast Asia closer to the US or closer to China.
OR, Lake Baikal can supply China with water. This could strengthen the Sino-Russian relationship considerably and give Russia massive amounts of leverage against China (after a while it would reach a point where if they stopped selling water the Chinese people would die in droves while the Russians would just suffer a mild loss to their economy). OR, it could drive China to invade southeastern Russia to seize Lake Baikal, tearing to shreds completely the idea of Sino-Russian cooperation in establishing a new world order.
How do you think Lake Baikal will become significant in Sino-Russian relations or the world at large in the future, if at all?

That 20% figure is actually pretty misleading as far as availability goes. Baikal is an extremely deep lake (the deepest in the world), since it was basically formed by a giant crack in the earth's crust. This means that you'd have to pump huge volumes of that water out to make it available, which makes the whole idea very uneconomical.

Not to mention the ecological area to the surrounding area which would result from Russia lowering the water level (since it's so narrow and deep, pumping water out would affect the actual level much faster, and destroy the fishing and tourism industries very quickly.)

China also does not want to be dependent on Russia; their gas pipeline maneuverings have made that much crystal clear.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -