The past five years have seen a growing number of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) conferences in China, increasing participation by Chinese businesses in international multi-stakeholder processes, and the development of China-specific CSR standards. The launch of the Global Compact's China network in 2001 in particular signals a growing willingness among Chinese business and government actors to engage international values on the environment, human rights, labor rights and transparency. Although CSR is currently the focus of mainly corporate, government and international policy actors, this growing interest in CSR activities, and references to international economic and social, as well as civil and political human rights standards in CSR debates and discussion, may suggest some openings for advancing human rights concerns. What CSR may offer China, therefore, may be the opportunity not only to raise the awareness of local businesses of international CSR business practice, but also to reinforce protection of human rights in China, and create greater room for local actors working on rights defense (weiquan) and human rights issues. This IR 2008 update will examine the recent development of CSR in China and its relationship to Olympic Games preparations, as well as the challenges and opportunity that the popularity of CSR presents for expanding civil space for promotion of human right-related issues.
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