Corporate Social Responsibility in Contemporary China

Corporate Social Responsibility in Contemporary China

Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series

Jingchen Zhao

China’s recent economic transformation and integration into the world economy has coincided with increasing pressure for corporate law reform to make corporate social responsibility (CSR) integral to business and management strategy in China. This timely book critically analyses contemporary notions of CSR in China, discussing theory and practice alongside legal responses in this emerging field.

Chapter 3: Corporate social responsibility in contemporary China: A growing awareness

Jingchen Zhao

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, business and management, corporate social responsibility, law - academic, asian law, corporate law and governance


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has attracted a critical mass of debates and controversy in China in the last half decade. It is argued that the start of Chinaís commitment to the connection between the ascendancy of industry and social good can be dated back to Chinaís opening up to the world in the late 1970s, or even as far back as the Communist revolution of 1949. However, the ideas and practices to which the label ëCSRí is now applied have been in evidence in Chinese society for hundreds if not thousands of years. In contrast to the commonly recognized voluntary nature of CSR in Western countries, CSR-related discussions, debates and headlines in China still focus on legal or compliance issues, with positive discourses about many corporate philanthropic actions. Considering the size of the Chinese economy and its increasingly important global position, the scope of CSR-related topics in China is very broad. The evolution of CSR developed with the reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), since this has been regarded as the central link in the reform and restructuring of Chinaís economy. The path of CSR reform has gone through different stages, such as ëdelegation of powers and interests, instituting the contract operational responsibility system and establishing a modern enterprise systemí. The reform of SOEs can be divided into the management reform stage from 1974 to 1984, the dual track system stage from 1984 to 1992, and the ownership reform stage post-1992.

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