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Asia Pulse: CHINESE COS NEED TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT SUSTAINABLE DEV’T: EXPERT

Published: Feb 12, 2007

BEIJING, Feb 12 Asia Pulse – Chinese companies need to get serious about sustainable development with the government repeating calls for a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable national economy in its 11th five-year plan.

So far 18 companies have issued sustainable development reports or social responsibility reports in China, said Zhai Qi, deputy general secretary of the China Business Council for Sustainable Development (CBCSD), on Friday.

Eleven of the firms are domestic companies such as COSCO, Baosteel, China Mobile and Ping An Insurance, five are foreign ones — including Alcoa China and Ford China — and two are Sino-foreign joint ventures like Shanghai Volkswagen.

But statistics show currently about 2,000 companies issue sustainable development or social responsibility reports in the world.

Multinationals were in the vanguard in the movement in China, according to the CBCSD website, saying Shell China had put out reports for seven consecutive years while last year the State Grid Corporation of China became the first central state-owned enterprise to issue a social responsibility report.

“Unlike foreign companies, many domestic companies do not publicize their efforts to seek sustainable development and fulfill social responsibilities”, said Liu Wenqiang, an official with the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection of the National Development and Reform Commission.

“On the other hand, they still have a long way to go to improve their environmental protection actions. Some of them do not even obey the law”, said Liu.

Associate professor Liu Xuehua with the Environmental Department at Tsinghua University believed it would take time for more Chinese companies to join in and it would require government policies to coerce them.

Last month a leading lawmaker slammed Chinese companies for blindly pursuing profit and neglecting social responsibilities and called for severe legal sanctions for these companies.

Cheng Siwei, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said in comments published in China Economy Weekly, a magazine run by the People’s Daily, that reckless practices were serious and widespread among Chinese companies.

Private coal mine bosses sent farmers to work in hazardous conditions, food companies used cheap industrial materials when making products for human consumption and factories discharged torrents of toxic pollutants, Cheng said.

He warned that these irresponsible practices had prevented Chinese companies expanding their business overseas and would affect equality and social justice.

(XIC)

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