Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon
Chapter 26: China’s international water relations
China, as an emerging market economy, has developed rapidly over the past few decades and water plays a crucial role in facilitating and sustaining such development. Its use of water resources, which are increasingly drawn from its transboundary waters, faces severe challenges and criticism by its riparian neighbours. Amid such challenges, China’s approach to international water law remains a highly contested issue. This chapter examines China’s understanding of international water law by looking at its comments during the drafting and adoption process of the UN Watercourses Convention, and surveys China’s treaty practice through an analysis of its treaties, joint statements and other normative documents, whether water or non-water-specific. In spite of significant criticism, a closer look at China’s understanding and treaty practice reveals a more nuanced approach to international water law and the broader issues of transboundary waters.
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