John Overmyer

La hegemonía del agua

NUEVA DELHI – La discusión internacional sobre el ascenso de China se ha centrado en su creciente poderío comercial, sus ambiciones marítimas en expansión y su capacidad cada vez mayor para proyectar poder militar. Sin embargo, hay una cuestión crítica que normalmente escapa a la atención: el ascenso de China como una potencia hidrohegemónica sin antecedentes históricos modernos.

Ningún otro país alguna vez llegó a asumir semejante preeminencia ribereña en un continente mediante el control de las aguas de múltiples ríos internacionales y la manipulación de sus flujos transfronterizos. China, el constructor de represas más importante del mundo -con poco más de la mitad de las aproximadamente 50.000 represas grandes del planeta- está acumulando rápidamente influencia frente a sus vecinos al emprender proyectos masivos de ingeniería hidroeléctrica en ríos transnacionales.

El mapa acuático de Asia cambió sustancialmente después de la victoria comunista de 1949 en China. La mayoría de los ríos internacionales importantes de Asia se originan en territorios que fueron anexados por la fuerza a la República Popular de China. La Meseta Tibetana, por ejemplo, es el depósito de agua dulce más grande del mundo y el origen de los ríos más grandes de Asia, incluyendo aquellos que son el elemento vital para la China territorial y el sur y sudeste de Asia. Otros territorios chinos de estas características contienen las aguas de ríos como el Irtysh, el Illy y el Amur, que fluyen hacia Rusia y Asia central.          

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