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Corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSR/CER) can be understood as practices which voluntarily extend beyond mere compliance with mandatory social and environmental standards. Corporate social and environmental responsibility: Another road to China’s sustainable development, by Mengxing Lu, contributes to the current debate of CSR/CER by providing a legal and economic analysis of CSR/CER and its relationship with regulation. Although the development of CSR/CER is at an early juncture in China, it is nevertheless a prominent topic for Chinese policy makers and business leaders alike. By depicting the landscape of CSR/CER in China, Corporate social and environmental responsibility: Another road to China’s sustainable development successfully demonstrates the vast potential for CSR/CER’s contribution to China’s sustainable development.


Launched in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was promoted by the Chinese leadership as an open platform to boost global trade, economic growth and transnational cooperation. It has achieved impressive progress in economic terms. However, a concern that has been voiced by international society is that China is using the BRI host countries as a new ‘pollution haven’. As a response, the Chinese government launched a variety of policies and guidelines with the aim of integrating the concept of ecological civilization and green development into the implementation of the BRI. In general, China’s position is to require all Chinese companies to observe the local environmental laws and standards wherever they invest and operate. However, the minimum standards set by various environmental regulations of the host countries may not be effective in improving corporate environmental performance, particularly when the environmental standards in those counties are lower and more lenient than those that are in effect in China. The aim of this article is to explore whether the concept of Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER) could motivate Chinese corporations to strengthen environmental risk management when they are operating and investing in these host countries. It is concluded that CER, as a form of private environmental governance, could provide added value for the implementation of ecological civilization and green development in the BRI but the success of this self-regulatory approach nevertheless calls for governmental intervention under certain circumstances.

Open Access
In: Chinese Journal of Environmental Law