India’s plan to build hydropower plants in the Himalayas angers China

File. A truck drives along an Indian highway close to the Chinese border in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh (Reuters)
File. A truck drives along an Indian highway close to the Chinese border in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh (Reuters)

China has reacted angrily to reports of India expediting the construction of hydroelectric power projects in the Himalayan region where Beijing has made territorial claims.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday said India has no right to create infrastructure in “Chinese territory”, calling the plan “illegal and invalid”.

India is ramping up a plan to construct 12 power stations, at a cost of about $1bn, in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, government sources told Reuters.

The proposed power plants are part of India’s push to develop the remote and sparsely populated Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of southern Tibet.

China has objected to visits by Indian leaders to the border state and has angered Delhi by giving many places in the region Chinese names.

“South Tibet is China’s territory,” a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry told Reuters.

This latest dispute comes just as Delhi and Beijing are seeking to disengage from contested friction points in Ladakh, near their northwestern border, where their armed forces have been locked in a standoff since 2020.

The standoff in the Galwan Valley began after hand-to-hand combat led to the death of 24 Indian and Chinese soldiers.

India‘s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on China‘s statement.

The Indian government is likely to announce the plan for developing hydroelectric power stations in Arunachal in the federal budget on 24 July.

Since the clash in 2020, both India and China have been investing in building infrastructure along the border.

Beijing has launched a programme to upgrade poor rural settlements and build new ones, analysts have said.

In Tibet, it is developing remote areas near the Indian border in return for political allegiance of the locals and their assistance in monitoring the region.

India has expressed concern about China’s construction of dams on a river that flows from Tiber to Arunachal Pradesh. The river is called Brahmaputra in India and Yarlung Tsangbo in China. India is concerned that Chinese projects in the region could trigger flash floods or create water scarcity downstream.