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Cooperation with Chinese actors on anti-corruption: Environmental governance as a pilot area

Engagement with Chinese actors on anti-corruption is possible but depends on trust-building efforts and suitable windows of opportunity. Environmental governance is the field where the overlap between Chinese and Western interests appears highest and the potential for cooperation most encouraging. We suggest three pathways: trilateral development cooperation, promotion of integrity standards along transnational supply chains, and building on public mobilisation or environmental litigation in host countries of corruption-prone projects.

24 January 2022
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Main points

  • The opacity of China’s development finance system and the lack of binding standards create vast opportunities for bribery and embezzlement, which harm both host countries and Chinese lenders.
  • China’s legal framework to control corruption and environmental risks in Chinese projects overseas remains weak, but policy commitments and soft regulations have been stepped up.
  • We identified environmental governance as the field where the overlap between Chinese and Western interests appears highest, making this a promising area for Sino-Western cooperation.
  • Trilateral development cooperation offers a pathway for mutual learning and gradual raising of standards. Cooperation offers should build on an understanding of bottlenecks in the Chinese system and donors’ candid appraisal of their own leverage.
  • Promotion of integrity standards along transnational supply chains is a shared global responsibility. The European Union has significant leverage if it is willing to combine its market regulation power with dialogue and capacity-building mechanisms to raise governance standards.
  • Another strategy is to build on instances of public mobilisation or even environmental litigation in host countries of corruption-prone projects. Instead of using backlashes as supposed proof of Chinese failure, U4 partners can initiate dialogue with stakeholders to strengthen preventive governance mechanisms.

Cite this publication


Lang, B.; Rudyak, M.; (2022) Cooperation with Chinese actors on anti-corruption: Environmental governance as a pilot area. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2022:1)

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Bertram Lang
Marina Rudyak

Disclaimer


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Keywords


China, Eastern Asia, accountability, development cooperation, environmental governance, integrity building