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The Evolution of Chinese Corporate Social Responsibility

China’s CSR landscape has changed almost as much as its urban skylines over the last decade, but the next ten years should bring even faster progress. China’s people and their leaders are no longer willing to allow companies to ignore their operations' impact on human and environmental welfare.

GLASGOW/SINGAPORE – Over the last decade, Chinese businesses have made significant strides in incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues into their decision-making. But they still have a long way to go, and they will not get there on their own.

The idea of corporate social responsibility is relatively new in China. Among the Chinese public, CSR began to gain traction in 2008, after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Sichuan province, killing 69,181 people, injuring 374,171 more, and leaving 18,498 unaccounted for. More than 15 million homes were destroyed, leaving ten million people homeless. The total damage was estimated at $150 billion.

After the so-called Great Sichuan Earthquake, the Chinese public demanded that business contribute to the recovery. Companies responded, offering $1.5 billion in support – and setting a new precedent for philanthropic CSR in China.