Controversial Bakun Dam in Borneo, Malaysia, built by Sinohydro

Chinese Government Guidelines for Overseas Investment

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On February 28th, 2013, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Environmental Protection released its “Guidelines for Environmental Protection in Foreign Investment and Cooperation” (“Guidelines”), which are based on recommendations by the Chinese NGO, Global Environmental Institute (GEI). These Guidelines provide civil society groups with a new source of leverage when it comes to holding Chinese companies responsible for their environmental and social impacts overseas. 

The Guidelines cover key issues, including legal compliance, environmental policies, environmental management plans, mitigation measures, disaster management plans, community relations, waste management, and international standards. 

While the Guidelines are non-binding, they are still government policy and can thus be a useful tool for civil society seeking to hold Chinese companies to account. Even though it is unlikely that the Guidelines will translate into immediate changes at project sites, the Guidelines create a new window for civil society to engage with Chinese companies abroad, obtain project information and documents, and hold them to a higher level of responsibility around mitigating damages.