, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 285-300
Date: 02 Nov 2012

Chinese hydropower companies and environmental norms in countries of the global South: the involvement of Sinohydro in Ghana’s Bui Dam

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The paper examines the role of environmental norms in Chinese overseas investment in hydropower dams, exemplified by Sinohydro’s involvement in the Bui Dam in Ghana. While the investment of Western companies in hydropower dams in the global South is decreasing owing to changing notions of sustainability in the West, the investment of Chinese companies in hydro dams in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America is accelerating at great speed. The emergence of Chinese companies in international markets in the context of China’s Going Abroad strategy has sparked a debate on whether China can be considered a norm-changer in international development. The paper considers this question in the context of the status of environmental norms in Sinohydro’s investment in Ghana’s Bui Dam. The paper argues that the role of international norms in Chinese investment is dependent on two factors: the contractual arrangements under which Chinese companies operate abroad and the political institutions of host countries.