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China and Glacial Water Shipments: Recent Developments and Considerations

Context: China has sent 1,500 tonnes of water from Tibetan glaciers to the Maldives. This is the second such shipment within two months.

Case Study: Water Diplomacy Between China and Maldives


The Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, faces significant challenges related to water scarcity and climate change. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events threaten its freshwater resources, making the country heavily reliant on external aid for water security. China has emerged as a key partner in addressing these challenges through its strategic water diplomacy initiatives.

Timeline of Events

  • November 2023: Pro-China Mohamed Muizzu is elected as President of the Maldives.
  • March 27, 2024: Maldives announces receipt of 1,500 tonnes of glacial water from China.
  • May 24, 2024: China sends a second shipment of 1,500 tonnes of glacial water from Tibet to the Maldives.

Key Actions

  • Water Shipments: China has sent two shipments of glacial water from Tibet, totalling 3,000 tonnes, to aid the Maldives in combating water shortages.
  • Collaborative Monitoring: Both countries are working together to enhance water monitoring systems and tackle climate change impacts.

Stakeholder Statements

  • Maldives Foreign Minister Mohamed Zameer: Expressed deep gratitude to China and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region for their support, highlighting the importance of such aid in times of climate-induced water scarcity.
  • Chinese Ambassador Wang Lixin: Emphasised that the water donation symbolises China’s goodwill and strong bilateral relations with the Maldives.

Climate and Environmental Context

  • Sea Level Rise: The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries to sea level rise, with many islands at risk of submersion.
  • Freshwater Scarcity: Limited freshwater resources make the Maldives highly dependent on desalination and external water aid.
  • Extreme Weather: Increased frequency of droughts and storms exacerbates the water crisis, necessitating reliable external support.

Impact of Chinese Aid

  • Immediate Relief: The shipments provide essential relief to Maldivian communities during periods of acute water shortage.
  • Strengthened Relations: These actions have fortified diplomatic ties between China and the Maldives, showcasing China’s role as a crucial ally in the region.
  • Enhanced Resilience: By ensuring a stable water supply, China’s aid helps the Maldives build resilience against the adverse effects of climate change.

Future Prospects

  • Continued Cooperation: The ongoing water diplomacy is likely to pave the way for further collaborations in other areas such as renewable energy, infrastructure development, and climate adaptation.
  • Strategic Influence: China’s involvement in the Maldives could enhance its strategic influence in the Indian Ocean region, aligning with its broader geopolitical interests.

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I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!

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