Making China’s water market: the legal and political dynamics of water trading in the South-North Water Transfer Project

Dr Min Jiang1

1The University Of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia


Mirroring the global trend away from state-controlled to market-oriented water governance regimes, China has pursued a raft of institutional reforms to establish formal water markets. One latest development is the trading of share quotas for water from the South-North Water Transfer system, which is the first step towards what China hopes will be the world’s largest water market. Little is known about how government power is mobilised through legal and other regulatory frameworks to create and facilitate such markets in China, which have significant implications for how water is allocated, both temporarily and spatially. Informed by theories and methods from legal geography and political ecology, this paper unpacks how laws and institutions have been introduced as an integral part of the state-led design to make water trading happen, and how they are shaped by political dynamics in the broad context of water governance in China. To this end, this paper provides an empirical narrative that demonstrates the complex intertwined relationships between legal, political and environmental systems in China.


Dr Min Jiang is a Senior Research Fellow on an ARC Discovery Project titled ‘the Technopolitics of China’s South-North Water Transfer Project’ at the School of Geography, the University of Melbourne. Her current research examines the interactions between infrastructure construction and market-oriented water allocation mechanisms in the context of China’s water law and policy reform. Holding a PhD in Environmental Law, Dr Jiang conducts interdisciplinary, policy-oriented research across water governance, climate change adaptation, and destination green growth, with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Email address:

About provides delegate registration, website and app solutions, and financial management for conferences, conventions and scientific meetings.

Terms & Conditions

All registrations and bookings are subject to our standard term and conditions.

Contact Us

Please contact the team at with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2017 - 2020 Conference Design Pty Ltd. is a division of Conference Design Pty Ltd.