There is a shortage of empirical studies on the relationship between Chinese hydropower dams and social sustainability. Comparative research on Chinese-funded and Chinese-built hydropower projects is rare. This article aims to fill parts of this gap by discussing these issues in relation to Chinese overseas hydropower dams in Ghana (Bui Dam) and Cambodia (Kamchay Dam). Both projects are built by Sinohydro and financed by ExIm Bank. This article draws on in-depths interviews and focus group discussions with local communities affected by the dams, institutional actors in Ghana and Cambodia, Chinese actors, and dam builders. The article uses an environmental justice perspective as an analytical framework. The article concludes that the dam projects could improve their social sustainability framework in practice and theory; social benchmarking should be * Urban and Siciliano: Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP), School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD, United Kingdom; Nordensvard: Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom; Li: Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200, Australia. Corresponding author: Nordensvard, email j.o.nordensvard@ soton.ac.uk. introduced and social policies need to be improved to be in line with international social standards on hydropower projects.