The concept of hydrohegemony as a framework for analyzing transborder conflicts over water. Thinking about the Chinese case




Hydropolitics, Hydrobehaviour, Hydrohegemony, China, Power asymmetries


Water is an essential resource, it is at the basis of human civilization and human life, and it also is an important geopolitical factor, in particular in the present worldwide condition of increasing scarcity. Therefore, can transboundary waters at the river basin level, which constitute the majority of freshwater basins, be considered a source that strengthen cooperation among states or a cause of international conflicts? This issue has been largely discussed in the academic literature since the 80s, following the Neo-Malthusian reasoning coupled with a realist approach. However, these arguments merely allow for the depoliticisation of the concept of water security, and do not reflect the realities of water politics. In order to understand states’ hydrobehaviour in transboundary water arrangements at the international level, a framework based on concepts such as hydrohegemony should be adopted to allow for the analysis power asymmetries both at the domestic and international level. To further understand the role that hydrohegemony and power asymmetry play in international water-relations, the case study of China’s hydrobehaviour is taken under analysis, specifically in the region of the Mekong River Basin. China is one of the world’s major raising powers, has exhibited high rates of economic growth, and is heavily dependant on natural resources, and in particular water. As water scarcity is affecting its development, China has shown behaviours pertaining to an ‘hydrohegemon’, making it a particularly interesting case to investigate.


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Author Biography

  • Juan José Delgado-Moran, Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia
    Dr. en Ciencias Sociales por la Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia. Miembro de la catedra de análisis y resolución de conflictos y de la catedra de relaciones internacionales RICINTAR.


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How to Cite

The concept of hydrohegemony as a framework for analyzing transborder conflicts over water. Thinking about the Chinese case. (2019). Agua Y Territorio Water and Landscape, 14, 97-104.