Past Event

China and Global Development Seminar Series

The Belt and Road Initiative, hydropolitics, and hydropower

7 June 2021 10:00–11:30

Registration required.

Register for event here

In this webinar we examine the role of new and planned hydropower projects financed by China in shifting geopolitics between China and South and Southeast Asia. We ask how hydropolitics and dams are enabling new forms of economic, social and political regional institutionalisation through the Belt and Road Initiative, how these play out differently in South and Southeast Asia, and what these mean for local communities and nature in particular locales across South and Southeast Asia.

Please find the recording of the event below (the recording stutters in parts, but clears up for the main presentations).


Professor Lyla Mehta is a Fellow at IDS whose work focuses on water and sanitation, large dams, forced displacement and resistance, climate change, the politics of scarcity, rights, access, uncertainty and sustainability. She has extensive field research in India and southern Africa  studying the politics of water and sanitation and climate change.


  • Prof Jiejin Zhu will speak on ‘China and Lancang-Mekong Cooperation(LMC)’. Prof Zhu is a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs and the deputy director of the center for UN and International Organizations studies at Fudan University. His research interests are international institutions, global governance, International Political Economy, China and International Organisations, BRICS and G20 etc. He is widely published and has researched on projects funded by the China International Development Research Network.
  • Dr Ruth Gamble will speak on ‘China-India River Politics: Tensions and the Impact on Indigenous and Minority Cultures, with a Focus on a New Development in the Pemako Region’. Dr Gamble is a lecturer at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and a historian of Tibet and the Himalaya, with a particular interest in this region’s rapidly changing environment. Dr Gamble’s highlighted publications include: ‘How Dams Climb Mountains: China and India’s State-making Hydropower Contest in the Eastern-Himalaya Watershed’, and a forthcoming book on the Yarlung Tsangpo River. She has also published articles on the region’s ecological politics, literature, and histories.
  • Dr Carl Middleton will speak on ‘Reworking the Mekong River Regime: The Geopolitics and Hydropolitics of Competing Regionalisms’. Dr Middleton is an Assistant Professor and Deputy Director on the Graduate Research in International Development Studies program (MAIDS-GRID), and Director of the Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS) in the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. His research interests orientate around the politics and policy of the environment in Southeast Asia, with a focus on nature-society relations, environmental justice and social movements, transdisciplinary research, and the political ecology of water and energy.
  • Rohan D’Souza will speak on ‘Damming Politics: India, China, and Trans-Border Rivers’. Rohan D’Souza is a Professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (Kyoto University). He was elected General Secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union (1989-90), on the political platform of the All India Student’s Federation. He is the author of Drowned and Dammed: Colonial Capitalism and Flood control in Eastern India (2006) and some of the select edited volumes include:  The British Empire and the Natural World: Environmental Encounters in South Asia (2011); and Commonwealth Forestry and Environmental History: Empire Forests and Colonial Environments in Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and New Zealand (2020). A previous talk of Rohan’s has great relevance to this topic:

‘Has Climate Change Helped Asia Fall in Love with Large Dams All Over Again?’ By Rohan D’Souza

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