Beyond Business - Chinese Enterprises Overseas, Sustainable Development and the Belt and Road Initiative

May 15, 2017

Beijing, 15 May- Chinese enterprises can play a critical role in supporting the Belt and Road regions to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the 2017 Report on the Sustainable Development of Chinese Enterprises Overseas, launched today during the unimpeded Trade Panel Session of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

This is the second report to review and provide recommendations on the sustainable practices of Chinese companies operating overseas. Produced in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Research Center of State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council, the report provides concrete analysis and recommendations on the potential impact of Chinese enterprises operating in Belt and Road regions and the realization of the 2030 Agenda in host countries.

The report was launched during the high-level Belt and Road Forum (BRF) by UNDP Administrator a.i, Tegegnework Gettu. “As the growth engine in most developing and developed countries, the private sector contributes significantly to poverty eradication and creating and aggregate income and wealth by generating and providing affordable goods and services” said Gettu. “UNDP hopes the report can serve as a reference, both in principle and in practice, for Chinese enterprises at home and abroad in facilitating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Belt and Road regions and build a community of shared interests and responsibility which enhances economic, social and environmental value in a sustainable way” he added.

The report highlights the linkages between the 2030 Agenda, the Belt and Road Initiative and the actions of Chinese enterprises operating overseas. These include improving infrastructure, upgrading industries, creating jobs, technology transfer and implementing ecological civilization, all areas that Chinese enterprises are already engaged in and are called on to accelerate by both the BRI and the 2030 Agenda.

In 2016, China’s non-financial outward direct investment (ODI) reached US$170.11 billion, an increase of 44.1% from 2015. Chinese companies invested in 7,961 overseas enterprises in 164 countries and regions. About 2.8 million jobs were created by Chinese enterprises by the end of 2015, including 1.2 million non-Chinese employees.  The report surveyed 543 Chinese enterprises doing business in the Belt and Road regions and collected opinions from 38 stakeholder representatives. It also includes 18 case studies of Chinese invested overseas projects that showcase best practices in green and sustainable economic development benefitting local communities and contributing to poverty reduction.

Survey results show that Chinese enterprises investing in the Belt and Road countries have already developed relatively high levels of awareness of corporate social responsibility, and have in fact invested in the public welfare of local communities. They have made significant strides in the localization of employment, ensuring equal treatment of local and Chinese employees with regards to pay and training, and in applying  local labour, health and safety and environmental regulations. However, survey results also show that there are still improvements to be made by Chinese enterprises, in terms of systematic analysis of social and environmental risks, establishing strategic management systems for sustainable development, strengthening information disclosure and enhancing communications with stakeholders.

Overseas Chinese enterprises are increasingly contributing to sustainable development in ways that are mutually beneficial to themselves and to the local community. The vision provided by the BRI as well as support from the Chinese government and other stakeholders are creating an enabling environment for Chinese enterprises to take advantage of profitable business opportunities while also contributing to the sustainable development of countries along the Belt and Road. 

Contact Information

Ms. ZHANG Wei, Chief Communications Officer, and UNDP China

Tel: +8610 8532 0715, Email:


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