Tips for Engaging Chinese Stakeholders
Map the project investment chain
If you are concerned about the impacts or potential impacts of a project, it is important to develop a clear understanding of which actors are behind it. Once you know which actors are involved, you can assess where the strongest pressure points are and what opportunities there may be for engagement and advocacy with key actors.
Engage with a range of actors
Document the project risks and company conduct
Assess compliance with local laws
In your engagement, refer strategically to Chinese policies
Although China now has many policies and guidelines on overseas investment, they are mostly not binding and it is apparent that many companies do not implement them. Some companies know they exist but are unsure exactly what is expected of them in terms of implementation. At the same time, more and more guidelines are being issued by various government agencies and industry associations. This reflects an awareness of the need to address these issues, and a growing political will to do so. By referring to these documents when engaging with Chinese actors, civil society groups can play a role in raising the profile of these guidelines and strengthening their implementation. It may also be strategic to frame concerns drawing on language that has been drafted by the Chinese state bodies that companies must report to and industry associations that they are members of.
This guide includes a database of key policies, regulations and guidelines. It summarizes content and extracts key articles that are especially relevant to the protection of the environment and community rights. If you see a document that might be useful to you, we encourage you to read the full document yourself. You should keep in mind that Chinese versions of these texts are authoritative. English translations are a guide only.
Consider your tone and language when engaging with Chinese actors
Until recently, Chinese companies, financiers and state actors have had limited experience engaging with NGOs. Many hold negative opinions of NGOs, seeing them as politicized or “anti-Chinese”. These perceptions are still present, but as Chinese stakeholders get used to engaging with NGOs both inside and outside China, opportunities for engagement may increase. Nonetheless, your engagement may be more effective if you consider your tone and language when communicating with Chinese companies and state institutions. Language that is deemed too direct or aggressive is not likely to get a positive response. You may use the Chinese policies and guidelines as a reference for framing your messages.
If you plan to write a letter, you should send it in your own language, English and Chinese, whenever possible. See our Useful Contacts document for contact details of key regulators, industry groups and banks.