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China Inc talks of social responsibility

Businesses in China are now talking of their social responsibilities by helping alleviate growing environmental problems and disparity in the country.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 10:51 IST

Businesses in China are now talking of their social responsibilities by helping alleviate growing environmental problems and disparity in the country.

The Chinese Association for Corporate Social Responsibility (CACSR) will be officially established in August, said He Zhiyi, a professor of business studies with the Guanghua School of Management of Peking University.

The association, supported already by 20 companies, will call on other firms to shoulder their social responsibilities through actions such as promoting environmental protection and helping alleviate poverty.

The establishment of the CACSR was announced at a forum on corporate social responsibility in North China's port city of Tianjin.

Corporate social responsibility can take two forms, business-related activities such as the use of environment-friendly materials and care for employees, and public activities - such as contributions to public welfare.

The CACSR was planning a programme to improve rural education by selecting 100 graduates and sending them to poor rural areas to teach for a year, providing salaries for 100 rural teachers and donating 100 computers to rural schools each year, said Zhiyi, also secretary-general of the preparatory committee of the association.

"We plan to make the association a platform for practical benefits in the long term, such as providing aid for the poor and helping them shake off poverty, and will try to assist more rural children and teachers," he said.

"Business efforts to help alleviate poverty in China are rather inadequate now, but we are willing to participate in this work and call on other companies to join," said Shu Qi, vice president of the China Hewlett-Packard (HP).

China still has 23 million rural people with a per-capita yearly income of less than 683 yuan ($84).

The China HP has donated computers and equipment worth more than five million yuan ($610,000) to the China Children and Teenagers' Fund, a charitable foundation striving for education and welfare of children, especially those in rural and ethnic minority areas.

More than 30,000 graduates who volunteered to go to the country's underdeveloped west for teaching have received financial support from a 10-million-yuan ($1.2 million) fund set up by the Junyao Group.

"The development of a corporation is closely connected with that of a society," said Wang Junjin, board chairman of the Shanghai-based Junyao Group, a privately owned Chinese conglomerate operating in aviation, dairy and real estate, at the forum.

Multinationals such as Nokia, IBM and CISCO, and Chinese companies like the China Pingan Insurance Company, the TCL Corporation, and the China Merchants Bank, are members of the CACSR.

The China HP has also promised to increase investment to impoverished areas, employ more local workers and ensure a sustainable development of those areas with environmental protection measures, Shu said.