China’s International Water Law Policy : Some Reflections

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-166
Journal / PublicationJournal of Water Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


China is the world’s biggest ‘exporter’ of transboundary water, as all ten of Asia’s largest river systems originate from the Tibetan Plateau. This paper uses an interdisciplinary approach to review Chinese municipal water law, considers domestic pressures regarding water management, examines international water agreements, and discusses the potential for greater Chinese cooperation with regards to transboundary water issues. The Chinese approach to water disputes has historically prioritized territorial boundaries and the importance of sovereign water rights, however the rise of China as a world power and its efforts to improve its international image is reshaping the Chinese mindset towards better transboundary water cooperation. This paper argues that current evidence points away from a pending China-led ‘water war’ and instead towards more good neighbour policies and increased international cooperation.

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