Research Handbook on International Water Law
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Research Handbook on International Water Law

Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon

The Research Handbook on International Water Law surveys the field of the law of shared freshwater resources. In some thirty chapters, it covers subjects ranging from the general principles operative in the field and international groundwater law to the human right to water and whether international water law is prepared to cope with climate disruption. The authors are internationally recognized experts in the field, most with years of experience. The Research Handbook is edited by three scholars and practitioners whose publications and work deal with the law of international watercourses.
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Chapter 26: China’s international water relations

Yu Su


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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