Chinese Human Rights Guidance on Minerals Sourcing: Building Soft Power

Karin Buhmann


China’s economic engagement in Africa has been subject to criticism on social and environmental fronts. This analysis examines two sets of guidelines launched by the government-related China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals. Aiming to promote responsible investment in the minerals sector and due diligence to ensure socially responsible sourcing of minerals with a particular focus on human rights, the guidelines refer to international human rights standards and are designed to be consistent with guidance issued by the OECD. The article discusses the Chinese guidelines as responses to the international critique and concludes they are elements of China’s soft-power efforts meant to enhance the country’s reputation as a responsible actor on the global stage. The analysis comes from the perspective of China’s deployment of state-driven corporate social responsibility (CSR), its complex relationship with international human rights, and its engagement with the international business and human rights (BHR) regime.

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