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Compact targets China

January 2005

China's business leaders have been urged by Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary-general, to join the Global Compact.

Annan, on an official visit to Beijing, warned that China's rapid economic expansion, which attracts $1billion (£550m) in foreign direct investment into the country every week, also poses social and environmental challenges. The prosperity of the Chinese business sector should be accompanied by responsible attitudes, he said.

Businesses should try to find ways of balancing economic growth with protecting the environment, rooting out corruption and halting the spread of HIV and Aids. For example, more public-private partnership would help to alleviate poverty in China and play a part in reaching the target of halving world poverty by 2015.

The challenges, he said, led him five years ago to propose the Global Compact, the UN initiative that advances responsible corporate citizenship and universal social and environmental principles in the climate of globalization. He said: 'Then, as now, I was concerned that, unless global markets were embedded in shared values and responsible business practices, the world economy would be fragile and vulnerable to backlash.'

He noted that some Chinese companies were already among 1500 in more than 70 countries that belong to the Global Compact. However, he called on all companies, small, medium-sized and large, to join the Global Compact and make a formal commitment to its principles.


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