New water development projects in China threaten the environment of international rivers. Chinese law, however, does not require developers to assess the effects of proposed projects on the environment outside China’s borders. Nevertheless, examples of transboundary cooperation and international agreements provide a basic legal foundation that allows China to implement transboundary environmental impact assessments (TEIA) as a standard practice. This article explores China’s customary law obligation to conduct TEIA by examining relevant treaties and instances of joint action. The article finds that a basic legal structure is already in place to support carrying out environmental impact assessments in a transboundary context, particularly regarding China’s shared water resources, and concludes that this legal foundation could help move China toward implementing full TEIA procedures.



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