China is the largest country in Asia, and houses largest population in the world. The country is famous for its rapid development, growing economic power, Belt and Road initiative as well as its manufacturing capacity.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in China
CSR is a fairly recent practice in China. About 10 years ago, Chinese companies shared a belief that their responsibility towards society is nothing but their economic performance. In fact, only 22 CSR reports had been published between 1999 and 2005.
This changed in 2006 when the concept of CSR was included in the corporate law of the country. This set in motion a group of industry leaders to issue their first CSR reports. These steps were taken to facilitate the smooth integration and brand-building of Chinese companies on the global market. Between 2006 and 2009 there have been about 1600 CSR reports in China, a large boost compared to the meagre numbers back at the beginning of the century.
Laws Dealing with Corporate Social Responsibility in China
China does not have a single umbrella law similar to India that defines and deals with CSR. The Chinese government places greater emphasis on safeguarding the legal rights and interests of citizens and has established a well-founded and complete legal system, in which, many laws and regulations, such as “Labour Law of the People’s Republic of China”, “Trade Union Law of the People’s Republic of China”, “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women”, “Provisions on Special Protection for Juvenile Workers”, “Production Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China”, “Code of Occupational Disease Prevention of the People’s Republic of China”, “Cleaner Production Promotion Law of the People’s Republic of China” and “Regulations on Enterprise Minimum Wage”, all contain CSR elements and requirements. However, China is still in the initial stage of developing a standardized, systematic and widely participated CSR social movement.
Companies for CSR in China
Alibaba group considers social responsibility as its core competency. It’s social responsibility is conducted simultaneously with its business operations as it functions with the motto – “Commercial practices with a public welfare mindset.”
Driven by this value, Alibaba uses Internet public welfare products, such as “Reunion System” and “Model Mother” to help needy groups, such as children, women, the elderly, and the poor. The technologies of Reunion System can not only help missing children return home, but can also help prevent the elderly from getting lost. Finding the lost elderly is always a challenge facing families and the society. According to statistics, there are more than 500,000 cases of the elderly getting lost every year in China. Based on the successful experience of the Reunion System, Alibaba cooperated with CCTV Sunset Glow to promote a Reunion project. Elderly people aged over 60 or with special diseases that make them get lost easily can apply for “real-time online custody permission” free of charge by calling the CCTV Sunset Glow hotline or visiting the Internet Security Volunteer official website. After successful application, the Reunion project team will mail a free intelligent locator to the applicant. When an elderly person wears the locator, his or her family members can monitor his or her position and dynamic route in real time online. When the elderly person is out of the security zone set by the guardian, the system will automatically issue an alarm and accurately locate the elderly person’s position in real time.
“Model Mother” empowers troubled mothers Alibaba has been devoted to creating a tolerant and fair platform for disadvantaged groups to start businesses or find jobs. The e-commerce entrepreneurship project “Model Mother”, which was established to help troubled mothers, has been operational for 10 years and has accumulated a wealth of operational experience and data. Over the past 10 years, “Model Mother” has been continuously updated to help troubled mothers who rely on themselves. In March 2018, Alibaba held the Model Mother Entrepreneurship Competition to provide a stage for mothers struggling to start their own businesses. Through online promotion and offline organization, a total of 25 provincial Red Cross Society organizations held the competition, attracting 1,117 mothers to sign up. In addition, 85 Model Mothers also signed up online for the competition. Alibaba has also opened an official “Model Mother” shop on Taobao, which helped the first batch of 10 excellent women from Hubei, Inner Mongolia, Anhui, and other places to display their high-quality products in a centralized manner. Senior experts from Taobao University provided one-on-one mentoring to help them solve problems in product selection, design, operation, and customer service, and explore the proper shop, operation models.
Haier focuses its significant energies on CSR for poverty alleviation. In accordance with the national plan for targeted measures in poverty alleviation and the requirements set out in relevant documents, the Company places great emphasis on poverty alleviation and carries out initiatives of targeted measures in poverty alleviation within the scope as authorized by the general meetings on related matters (such as donation). Over the years, the Company has been devoted to education undertakings and making significant contributions, with a view to targeting the weakest area of education and to blocking the transmission of poverty between generations through focused efforts in raising the basic cultural quality in poverty and the skill levels of labor force from poor families. Up until now, the Company and the Haier Group Corporation (its ultimate controller) and its subsidiaries (referred to as the ‘Haier Group’) has built over 300 hope primary schools and hope middle school, covering 26 provinces, municipalities directly under the central government and autonomous regions in China, and continuously provide the above-mentioned schools support in materials and other respects in each year including the reporting period. These initiatives have effectively enhanced the basic educational capabilities in poverty-stricken areas and improved the quality of education.
In 2019, the Company’s expenditures on targeted measures in poverty alleviation was approximately RMB 17.82 million, which was mainly utilized in the education improvement, physical and mental health development of adolescents and children and social welfare. At the same time, as part of its initiatives in response to the government and the performance of its social responsibilities, Haier Group has also made investments in many aspects, such as poverty alleviation through agricultural development, poverty alleviation through the improvement of the health of farmers and cultivation of innovative talents.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemic, Air China has been determined to implement the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the decisions and plans of the Central Committee and the State Council regarding the success in the fight against the epidemic. Adhering to the principle of “Epidemic is the command, to fight is our responsibility”, Air China has been determined to fulfill its responsibility and mission as an aviation company in a highly responsible approach towards people.
Time is a crucial factor for the fight. The earlier the epidemic supplies and healthcare workers arrive, the more hopeful for us to defeat the disease. Air China has devoted all its resources to transport epidemic prevention supplies and healthcare workers in order to be the best backup in this war against the epidemic. Led by the Party Committee of Air China, all operation support units along the business chain in all areas, including commerce, cargo transportation, flight service, passenger service, ground service, aviation security, engineering and branches, established the mechanism of guaranteeing significant aviation transport service within Air China to ensure due fulfilment of such mission under the standard of “top priority with no bargaining” with all human resources and close coordination. As of March 2020, air charter service of 65 flights in total for emergency relief and transportation was arranged with 6,596 epidemic fight personnel and 454 tonnes of epidemic prevention supplies transported, while 2,344 normal flights and freighters were arranged to transport 3,030 tonnes of epidemic prevention supplies, putting the mission and responsibility of serving the country with integrity of an aviation company carrying the national flag into practice.
Since its inception, Xiaomi has always worked towards exploring ways to be more socially responsible. The company’s mission is to let everyone in the world to enjoy a better life through innovative technology. It has remained steadfast in its mission to bridge the digital divide and make valuable contributions towards building a more inclusive and equitable society by harnessing technological advances.
The modus operandi of the company is that it closely observes and try to understand the society, identify real problems facing and find ways to promote social equality through its product and service offerings. The company has initiated programs for universal accessibility, disaster warning and senior-friendly design, and promote social responsibility through consumer products and relevant educational campaigns across the globe.
In September 2020, Beijing Xiaomi Foundation and Xiaomi Corporation donated 6 “Xiaomi Libraries” and 6 “Xiaomi Calligraphy Classrooms” to Binchuan County, a poverty-stricken area in Dali, Yunnan. The company donated RMB1 million worth of computers, books, whiteboards and calligraphy stationery.
From June to July 2020, Beijing Xiaomi Foundation set up Xiaomi Scholarships in 10 renowned Chinese universities. The first batch of RMB50 million will be used to support students and individuals of exceptional talent from impoverished households.
In 2020, Xiaomi donated a batch of IoT and other lifestyle products to Buy42 where 35% of the employees are disabled. The value of the donation was over RMB940,000. On Thanksgiving Day, Xiaomi and Buy42 jointly organized a charity event to help disabled people better integrate into society.
Huawei’s vision is to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. The company wants to help everyone benefit from digital technology.
Healthcare inequality is a global problem that disproportionately affects people in rural and remote areas. The densely populated province of Henan in China is no exception, with the bulk of the province’s healthcare resources concentrated in big cities. Medical resources in rural and remote areas are very scarce, so effective diagnosis and treatment can be hard to receive in many towns and counties.
Huawei has built up a broad array of telemedicine solutions and mature applications, including an HD video conferencing system that forms the foundation of a telemedicine system. Back in 2011, Huawei teamed up with China Mobile Henan to build a telemedicine platform and a joint innovation centre for healthcare big data for the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, putting in place the ICT infrastructure necessary for telemedicine system. Since its launch, the telemedicine system deployed by the National Telemedicine Center at the First Affiliated Zhengzhou University Hospital has covered the whole of Henan Province, providing people in remote areas with top-tier medical services.
The Bank of China (Hong Kong) contributes to society and attaches great importance to community investment. Through a diverse range of initiatives, the group aims to promote steady community development and generate positive energy towards a better society. The Group received the “Best Bank for CSR in Hong Kong” awards from Asiamoney for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019, and has been recognised as a “Caring Company” by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service for 17 consecutive years since 2003.
BOCHK has supported Food Angel’s “Food Station” programme since 2016. Food Station rescues edible food from potential wastage in order to create hot meals and food packages for low-income neighbourhoods and elderly people living in grassroots communities. In 2019, the company worked with Food Angel again to sponsor a new four-year “Food Angel x BOC Food Rescue and Assistance Project”. It introduced two new “Food Rescue Vehicles”, each equipped with thermal insulation, to efficiently distribute hot and frozen meal boxes, soups and fresh food packs to underprivileged communities in remote areas such as Sai Kung and Sheung Shui twice a day. Since the programme was launched, more than 1.5 million meal boxes and food packs have been distributed to people in need.
The group has also donated to Tung Wah Group of Hospitals to support its Yiu Tung Community Kitchen Hot Meal Service, which provides affordable and nutritious hot meals to low-income elderly people to relieve their financial stress and enhance their quality of life.
For children with special needs, BOCHK has sponsored Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (“TWGH”) to launch the “Play Arts Family — Children Emotional Wellbeing Enhancement Community Project” and the “Brain-based Emotion Coaching Parenting Programme” to provide appropriate emotional support to children and parents, enhance children’s emotional intelligence, provide an equal starting point for development and help them grow up in good health. It is expected to benefit more than 7,000 people.
BAIC’s brand slogan as well as its development philosophy is “Your Wish, Our Ways.” The group aims to assume social responsibilities, promote the sustainable development of the enterprise and the society, strive to build a high-quality, considerate and ambitious brand, persistently promote the unity and maximum development of corporate economic value, social value and environmental value, thus becoming a corporate citizen that is recognized by the society, satisfies shareholders and makes employees happy.
The Group has continuously supported the development of social sports. Over the years, it has established long-term partnerships with China Open Tennis Championships, Beijing Marathon, Beijing Volleyball, Beijing Youth Ice and Snow Sports and other sports events, and has accumulated rich experience.
With the approach of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the Group is actively contributing to the development and popularization of ice and snow sports. On December 23, 2019, the diamond partners conference for Meet in Beijing Series of winter sports events was held in the park of Organising Committee for the Beijing Winter Olympics. Xu Heyi, chairman of the Group, received the diamond partner nameplate from Zhang Jiandong, Vice Mayor of Beijing, Executive Vice President of Organising Committee for the Beijing Winter Olympics, and Executive Vice President of the Organising Committee for “Meeting in Beijing”. As a diamond partner of “Meet in Beijing” series of winter sports events, the Group will seize the opportunity of providing services for the Olympic Winter Games, make every effort to meet the demand for use of cars in the sports event on time and with good quality by strengthening technological innovation, product innovation and mode innovation, and ensure the provision of other services, to provide strong product technology and service support for travel related to the sports event and facilitate the development of ice and snow sports.
JD.com, one of the largest e-commerce sites of China conducts its CSR initiatives through JD Foundation.
Since its launch in September 2014, JD Foundation has been committed to the goal of integrating social resources for social good, with focuses on poverty alleviation, disaster relief, education, environmental protection and social innovation. JD Foundation consistently contributes to the education sector and has donated to more than 10 universities, including Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, Cornell University and China Europe International Business School. The foundation supports domestic and overseas educational development and funds needy students to fulfil their dreams.
In April 2018, JD Foundation launched the Children’s Book Donation Program and delivered books to over 200 rural schools.
JD Foundation and UNDP launched the “Green Planet” Sustainability Week initiative to encourage consumers to integrate sustainable consumption concepts into their daily lives and choose a healthier and better green lifestyle.
Since its establishment, NetEase has been highly committed to environmental, social and corporate responsibility matters. Through its product and service offerings, the company aims to improve people’s lives by leveraging technologies to offer innovative services such as online games, intelligent learning and music streaming.
Aspiring to make high-quality education and learning services accessible to everyone, NetEase has been making headway in improving and promoting online and live-streamed courses, which makes it possible for users in less-developed regions in China to access quality and diverse educational resources. In 2020, the company donated hardware, software and high-quality learning content to schools in Hunan province, enabling over 12,000 students to have access to online courses. Furthermore, its Cloud Music platform has become an important avenue for raising awareness of social issues, such as animal protection and children’s wellbeing, through its music and fund-raising campaigns.
NetEase games have demonstrated their social value by providing platforms for users to collaborate, contribute ideas, raise awareness of social issues and promote science popularization. For example, students rebuilt their campuses in Minecraft and held virtual graduation ceremonies, despite school closures related to COVID-19. Fantasy Westward Journey mobile games collaborated with WildAid to bring public attention to the protection of wild animals. In addition, the company has developed game modes to educate users on cybersecurity awareness.
NetEase has also partnered with organizations to use its anime characters to educate the public on the prevention of respiratory diseases.
Vanke is a large residential real estate developer in the People’s Republic of China. It conducts its CSR initiatives through Vanke Charity Foundation. Vanke Charity Foundation adheres to the concept of “face the future and dare to be the first”, pays attention to issues that will have a profound impact on the future, and promotes environmental protection and community development with the goal of “sustainable communities”.
Vanke believes that education development is the permanent cure of poverty. The company based on the reality of poverty-stricken areas introduces advanced teaching experience and practices in a practical, continuous and in-depth manner, and helps address the lack of educational infrastructure, facilities and seasoned teachers, so as to broaden children’s horizons, boost rural education and cultivate talents for the future of rural areas.
Shouning County, located in Ningde city, east of Fujian Province, suffers from a severe shortage of education infrastructure. Vanke, together with China Foundation for Guangcai Program, set up “Guangcai-Vanke Special Fund for Targeted Poverty Alleviation and Rural Vitalization” and planned to invest RMB 120 million in the first phase of the Dongqu Middle School project. Once finished, the school will be able to accommodate nearly 2,000 students.
With regards to educational resources, Guizhou and Gansu are among the most deficient region in China with extremely poor education infrastructure. In partnership with China Foundation for Guangcai Program, Vanke plans to invest RMB 75 million to support the basic education of the five poverty-stricken counties, namely Qinglong, Sandu, Wangmo and Hezhang in Guizhou, and Jishishan in Gansu. The Company will build teaching buildings, student dormitories and canteens in three years, to improve learning and living conditions for local students.
While the CSR in China is relatively new, it’s CSR landscape has changed almost as much as its urban skylines over the last decade. It is estimated that the next ten years would bring even faster progress. China’s people and their leaders are no longer willing to allow companies to shirk their social and environmental responsibilities.