Water in China's Domestic Politics and International Relations

Wintersemester 2018 / 2019

Water in China's Domestic Politics and International Relations


Water in China's Domestic Politics and International Relations
(Wintersemester 2018/2019)

von Dr. Sebastian Biba

23.10.2018 bis 12.02.2019

Di  14:00 - 16:00 / Raum PEG 1.G 111

Achtung: Kursbeginn erst am 23.10.2018!


Bitte Einschreibung über den Button "Einschreibung" links.


Link LSF: https://qis.server.uni-frankfurt.de/qisserver/rds?state=verpublish&status=init&vmfile=no&publishid=253539&moduleCall=webInfo&publishConfFile=webInfo&publishSubDir=veranstaltung




Fresh water is essential to human existence and has no substitute. On the one hand, the population in China accounts for more than 20 percent of the world; however, the country only has 7 percent of the global freshwater resources at its disposal. What is more, a huge part of these resources is polluted and unfit for drinking or use in agriculture. On the other hand, China is an indispensable freshwater provider for most of its neighboring countries, because China is home to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where the largest freshwater reserves outside the polar ice caps are located and where several major transboundary rivers originate. Meanwhile, the pressure on water resources is further growing across Asia – due mainly to economic development, population growth, urbanization, and climate change. The potential for water-related conflicts, sub-state and international, is therefore increasing as well.

Against this complicated background, this seminar is divided into two main parts: The first part deals with China’s domestic water woes, seeking to identify key problems as well as their socio-economic drivers and political root causes, but also looking into recent political developments aimed at alleviating the situation. With the domestic picture in mind, the second part, then, turns to the international theater and focuses on China’s river politics vis-à-vis its riparian neighbors, trying to analyze China’s actions in light of a cooperation-versus-conflict matrix and looking into the broader implications of China’s behavior for its continued (peaceful) rise.



 Date Topic 
23.10.Course introduction 
30.10.China’s domestic water woes: an overview 
06.11.A legacy of exploitation: philos. and hist. underpinnings of China’s water gov. 
13.11.China’s water governance I: ”Fragmented Authoritarianism” 
20.11.China’s water governance II: ”Fragmented Authoritarianism 2.0” 
27.11.The Chinese interpretation: ”Grand Union” and ”River Chiefs” 
04.12.Domestic-international interfaces: China and international water law 
11.12.Water regime formation and IR theory: what behavior to expect from China? 
18.12.Central Asia: China’s water diplomacy on the Ili and Irtysh Rivers 
15.01.South Asia: China’s water diplomacy on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin 
22.01.Southeast Asia: China’s water diplomacy on the Mekong River 
29.01China’s ”dam diplomacy” in Southeast Asia and beyond 
05.02.Simulation game 
12.02.Final discussion: water, regime legitimacy and peaceful rise 


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