Chinese investment in hydropower dams in Cambodia and Ghana and the role of international environmental norms


Zhang Zhong, University of Sheffield


The paper examines environmental governance in Chinese overseas investment in Ghana and Cambodia. Its main concern is the extent to which Chinese companies are bound by international best practice standards in implementing environmental safeguards in construction projects, particularly in hydropower dams. This is partly contingent on the duties of other actors involved in planning for infrastructure projects, such as government agencies, international organizations, and consulting companies, and on the specific contract under which Chinese companies operate. However, the quality of environmental safeguards also depends on Chinese government policies, company-internal corporate social responsibility policies, and exposure to international criticism. The paper will address these issues by looking at Chinese involvement in the hydropower business in Ghana and Cambodia.


Oliver Hensengerth is Lecturer in China and Global Politics at the Politics and International Relations Unit and at the Centre for Contemporary China of the University of Southampton. Before joining Southampton, he has taught at the Universities of Warwick, Essex and Leeds and has conducted research for think tanks and academic institutions in the United States, Germany and the UK, for UK-based NGOs, and for the German Development Cooperation.

He works on Chinese foreign and environmental policies, Chinese hydropower investment in continental Southeast Asia, transboundary water cooperation in the Mekong River Basin, and Cambodian domestic politics. He has extensive field work experience in China, Cambodia and Laos and has also conducted field research in Vietnam and Ghana.