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CSR as a Tool to Mitigate Risk for the B&R Initiative: The Case of Thailand

Abstract

The Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative is a strong driver for Chinese firms venturing into more than 60 foreign countries. The risk and risk management of these B&R investments attracts increasing attention inside and outside China. This chapter focuses on why and how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be a tool to mitigate risks for Chinese firms involved in the B&R. The rational for CSR as a tool to mitigate the B&R risk is established, followed by the guidance of its implementation. The CSR performance of Chinese firms overseas is then discussed with a case study of Thailand. Through qualitative analysis of the interview and observation notes, a 4I model is constructed as a framework to describe the CSR of Chinese firms in Thailand. Their practice and performance are studied through four dimensions: “Intention” (how CSR is positioned in the firm); “Involvement” (how stakeholders are involved in CSR activities); “Intervention” (what CSR activities are conducted); and “Impacts” (how CSR activities impact the firm). It shows that many Chinese firms have understood and indeed engaged in CSR activities overseas. They are advised to move from a “philanthropy” level to the “compliance” and “strategy” levels of CSR. CSR is a critical factor to the B&R Initiative as it is a license for Chinese firms to operate and thrive, a pillar of soft power of China in the world.

Prof. Dr. Tang Zhimin is the Dean of International College, and Director of China ASEAN Studies, Panyahpiwat Institute of Management, Thailand.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In the “Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce of China in 2015, the geographic coverage of B&R countries is defined as: “The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.”

  2. 2.

    Data of Ministry of Commerce, China quoted in “一带一路”投资大数据 (Big Data of B&R Investment) in 北京商报 (Beijing Business Today) May 17, 2017.

  3. 3.

    BOI Thailand 2017: FOREIGN INVESTMENT FROM MAJOR COUNTRIES The figure is the FDI from China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan), approved by BOI.

  4. 4.

    Data from “Chinese Thai Enterprises Association”.

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Tang, Z. (2018). CSR as a Tool to Mitigate Risk for the B&R Initiative: The Case of Thailand. In: Arduino, A., Gong, X. (eds) Securing the Belt and Road Initiative. Palgrave, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7116-4_8

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