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An Evolving Framework for Outbound Investment

Conflict Sensitive
AFSC’s Jason Tower, NATC’s Dr. Jiang Heng, and the Chairperson of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, Mr. Gao Hua sit on a panel on Approaches to Conflict Sensitive Business in Cambodia. Photo: AFSC China / AFSC

A Chinese Approach to Conflict Sensitive Business

In 1999, the Chinese government launched an initiative to support Chinese investment overseas termed the “going out strategy”.

Some 15 years later, China has successfully become a leading provider of development capital to least developed countries (LDCs) across the global, and in 2014 Chinese outward investment exceed foreign investment into China for the first time . Both China and developing countries stand to reap great benefits from cross border investments. At the same time, in LDCs where AFSC works, such as Myanmar and Cambodia, large scale investment projects have also generated serious and sometime violent conflict at the community level. This has prompted Chinese experts to consider new approaches to enhancing the conflict sensitivity of cross border investments.

Beginning in 2011, AFSC, the CDA Collaborative Learning Project and the Beijing New Century Academy on Transnational Corporation (NATC) began collaboration around identifying drivers of such conflict, and developing tools that might be used to assist companies build peace. Research conducted in Myanmar and Angola led to the publication of a book written in Chinese titled: Out of the Mine Fields and Blind Areas of Overseas Investment. Incorporating a CDA toolkit “Preventing Conflict in Exploration,” the book has been introduced to Chinese enterprises at workshops in Beijing, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. A number of companies have shared feedback regarding how the book has helped them better engage civil society and communities in the host countries of their investments.

As a means of sharing the finding of the book with civil society partners and other relevant stakeholders, AFSC and CDA produced an English version of the book, adding new content that helps readers better understand how Chinese companies view the challenges associated with investing in conflict-afflicted states.

By analyzing how Chinese businesses fit within a larger China overseas investment policy framework, the Chinese version of the book aims to help Chinese actors identify risks in investing in conflict-affected nations, and help them develop tools they might use to minimize risks. For civil society leaders and communities hosting investments, the English version of the book provides practical suggestions and resources that can help advance more effective communication and  engagement with corporate stakeholders.  

Hundreds of copies of printed versions of the book have been disseminated at conferences and trainings on conflict sensitive business developed implemented throughout Asia. In January of 2014, AFSC, NATC and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia partnered to introduce the findings of the book to Chinese investors in that country at a joint workshop hosted in Phnom Penh.

An e-book has published in 2015. A link to download can be found here.