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Raging Waters

China, India, Bangladesh, and Brahmaputra River Politics

Nilanthi Samaranayake, Satu Limaye, and Joel Wuthnow

DOI: 10.56686/9781732003002


The Brahmaputra River originates in China and runs through India and Bangladesh. China and India have fought a war over contested territory through which the river flows, and Bangladesh faces human security pressures in this basin that will be magnified by upstream river practices. Controversial dam-building activities and water diversion plans could threaten regional stability; yet, no bilateral or multilateral water management accord exists in the Brahmaputra basin.

Nilanthi Samaranayake is an analyst at CNA in the Center for Strategic Studies. Her research focuses on South Asia and Indian Ocean security. She has authored book chapters on the smaller countries of South Asia and their relations with China; the U.S.-China-India strategic triangle in the Indian Ocean region; and island states in the Indian Ocean. Prior to joining CNA, Samaranayake completed a fellowship at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and analyzed public opinion for a decade at Pew Research Center. Samaranayake holds an MSc in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Satu Limaye is a senior advisor at CNA in the Center for Strategic Studies. His recent work at CNA includes Indian Navy interests in the Indo-Pacific, U.S.-India maritime security cooperation in South Asia, and implications of climate change on Asia-Pacific international relations. He is also director of the East-West Center in Washington, DC, where he directs the Asia Matters for America initiative and edits the Asia-Pacific Bulletin. Previously, he was director of research and publications at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. Limaye is a graduate of Georgetown University and received his doctorate from Oxford University (Magdalen College).

Joel Wuthnow is a research fellow in the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs for the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. Previously, he was a China analyst at CNA and a postdoctoral fellow in the China and the World Program at Princeton University. His publications include a book, Chinese Diplomacy and the UN Security Council: Beyond the Veto (2013), and articles in journals such as the China Quarterly, Journal of Strategic Studies, Joint Force Quarterly, Asia Policy, Asian Security, and the Chinese Journal of International Politics, as well as book chapters. He received a PhD in political science from Columbia University.



1.   Water Power, Water Worries: China’s Goals and Challenges as the Brahmaputra’s Uppermost Riparian
2.   Upstream, Downstream: Reflections on India’s Riparian Relationships on the Brahmaputra
3.  Bangladesh: The Strongest Advocate of Basin-Wide Management




6 x 9 paperback
148 pages
PDF download

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