China: Statement by 265 CSOs urges COVID-19 relief fund for BRI to only consider projects meeting criteria safeguarding people's rights and environment

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in February 2020, China’s Ministry of Commerce and the China Development Bank jointly issued a notice creating a mechanism for directing finance to Belt and Road projects that have been impacted by COVID-19, stating that projects that are “high quality”, “legally compliant” and have “controllable risks” can qualify to receive COVID-19 related financial relief.

In April 2020, 265 civil society groups issued a joint statement, urging the Chinese government to ensure that financial relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic only flows to high quality Belt and Road projects that meet “stringent criteria aimed at protecting people and safeguarding the environment” and setting out 10 specific principles that could help ensure that projects are “high quality”.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the China Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of China, Bank of China, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China to respond to the joint statement; none of these banks has responded.

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Company non-response
19 May 2020

Agricultural Bank of China could not be reached

Author: Agricultural Bank of China

Company non-response
19 May 2020

Bank of China did not respond

Author: Bank of China

Company non-response
19 May 2020

China Construction Bank could not be reached

Author: China Construction Bank

Company non-response
19 May 2020

China Development Bank did not respond

Author: China Development Bank

Company non-response
19 May 2020

Export-Import Bank of China did not respond

Author: Export-Import Bank of China

Company non-response
19 May 2020

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China could not be reached

Author: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Article
11 May 2020

265 Civil Society Groups Call on Chinese Authorities to Ensure that Covid-19 Financial Relief Does Not Bail Out Harmful Projects

Author: Inclusive Development International

“265 Civil Society Groups Call on Chinese Authorities to Ensure that Covid-19 Financial Relief Does Not Bail Out Harmful Projects”, 30 April 2020

… Inclusive Development International joined 265 civil society groups around the world in calling upon the Chinese government to ensure that COVID-19 related financial relief for struggling Belt and Road projects flows only to high quality overseas investments that meet stringent criteria aimed at protecting people and safeguarding the environment.

The organizations urged China to avoid bailing out projects already mired in environmental, social, biodiversity, climate, or financial risks prior to the onset of COVID-19.

In February 2020, China’s Ministry of Commerce and the China Development Bank jointly issued a notice creating a mechanism for directing finance to Belt and Road projects that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…

Crucially, the notice states that projects that are “high quality”, “legally compliant” and have “controllable risks” can qualify to receive COVID-19 related financial relief…

In the statement, civil society groups highlighted 60 Chinese sponsored projects in the mining, pulp and paper, hydropower, infrastructure, fossil fuel, and other sectors which do not meet these criteria, and set out 10 specific principles that if present could help to ensure that projects are “high quality.” This includes ensuring credible, robust environmental impact assessments, obtaining free, prior informed consent from affected people, committing not to impact on key biodiversity areas, and ensuring alignment with international norms and best practices and China’s green finance policies, among others.

… To manage the crisis and begin to address the harm caused by the pandemic, Chinese and global development actors will need to seriously consider how low-quality, high-risk investments may not only drive negative environmental, social, climate, and biodiversity impacts, but may also facilitate the spread of diseases…

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