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SOEs willing to do more public good

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-01-29 09:15

BEIJING - China's state-owned enterprises have showed more willingness to "serve the people", according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).

Business giants posted stories of how they have helped the needy and the public on the commission's website. Such acts have included helping build schools in rural areas, protecting rare fish and donating money to the poor.

More than 400 entries were posted on the website in 2012 detailing good deeds, some 100 entries more than in 2011.

China's state-owned enterprises are in charge of the bulk of state assets and important to the Chinese economy.

However, the enterprises have been blamed for amassing wealth partly due to market dominance but not sharing profits with the public.

Last February, the SASAC asked all state-owned enterprises administered by the central goverment to publish reports on social responsibility before the end of 2012.

"In addition to making money, enterprises also need to take social responsibility," said Peng Huagang, a senior official with the SASAC.

"If a company doesn't have a sense of responsibility, it is impossible for it to create international competitiveness," said Zhang Weiying, an economist at Peking University.

Besides state-owned enterprises, the country's firms released more than 1,006 reports on social responsibility in 2012, surging from 32 in 2006, figures from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences showed.

Taking social responsibility not only means an increase in public good, but can also bring extra profits.

Companies with a strong sense of social responsibility make a good impression on investors that they are reliable and trustworthy, said Ji Xiaonan, board chairman of supervisors on state-owned enterprises.

Although Chinese enterprises engage themselves actively in improving public welfare, a string of scandals especially in food safety led to an outcry about enterprises' integrity and commitments.

Also, amid an economic slowdown, enterprises tend to ignore social responsibility, said Song Hua, an economics professor at Renmin University of China.

"Companies should reveal their problems in social responsibility reports instead of whitewashing them," said Wang Kaiyu, an Anhui-based researcher.

Social responsibility reports are accounts of what enterprises have done for public welfare, not commercial publicity, Wang said.

According to Zhang, the ability to take social responsibility is yet to mature among Chinese enterprises. The country needs to set up a mechanism to regulate enterprises' social responsibility based on law, culture and moral standards, Zhang added.

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