Chinese businesses in Africa: perspectives on corporate social responsibility and the role of Chinese government policies
China’s business engagement in developing countries has grown rapidly in the past decade through direct investment, contract projects and trade. China was the third-largest foreign investor in the world between 2012 and 2014, and approximately 80% of its investments flowed to developing countries in 2014. Chinese companies are also eagerly bidding for - and winning - contracts for infrastructure and service projects at an unprecedented rate, particularly in developing countries. For example, 80% of newly signed and completed projects undertaken by Chinese companies in 2014 were located in Asia and Africa.
This discussion paper research aims to understand the role that Chinese policies and guidelines play in governing Chinese companies overseas, through exploring the experiences and perceptions of representatives in those companies. The paper presents the key findings of fieldwork in Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda during August–September 2015, including a survey and interviews with fifty-eight Chinese personnel working for Chinese companies in these locations. Findings revealed a complex governance matrix influencing the environmental and social performance of Chinese companies in Africa, in which Chinese policies play only a relatively minor role.