Enterprises in China - either Chinese or foreign-funded enterprises - have felt a magnitude of pressure from the massive number of Chinese netizens who urge them to shoulder more corporate social responsibilities (CSR).
When talking about the controversial online donation list that questions the CSR performance of some enterprises, Prof. Jin Canrong, an expert on international studies at Renmin University, recognizes the good intention of netizens promoting CSR; although he doubts the rationality of the rating list method.
"Actually enterprises in the US and Europe face even more pressure in terms of CSR from the public there," said Jin. In the 1970s and 1980s, non-government organizations (NGOs) in the US and Europe launched a similar campaign and used the same tool, a rating list of charities, to criticize enterprises which were thought to be not generous enough. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, was on that shame list in the "shame on you" campaign.
"NGOs and netizens now still try to search for their donations and release the information in the US and Europe," said Jin, adding that CSR is still new to China and some foreign enterprises have implemented lower standards of CSR in China than in more developed markets.
Multinational giants including Nokia, Wal-Mart, and Coca Cola, were all singled out by Chinese netizens as "misers" in terms of donations toward the recent quake relief in China. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has clarified that foreign enterprises in China have made many contributions to the quake relief and it would take time for them to fulfill their commitment on donations.
Jin sees the power of online diversified public opinion. He regarded it as a symbol of an early civil society in which the middle class is growing and playing an important role. "They judge things issue-by-issue according to their own values. It is based on their values that they criticized the US and European media on the issue of the Tibet incident and the Olympic torch relay," said Jin.
Jin believes that China as an emerging big country will also shoulder its responsibility better in the future. In lethal natural disasters, China should also offer help to other countries that need it. It also has the long-term responsibility of "common development" with less developed countries.
"China hopes its aid will bring visible benefits to people's living conditions in the countries where it holds long-term aid projects," said Jin.
By People's Daily Online