Tag Archives: Human Rights Watch

A Bruising Week For China’s Multinationals

It has been a bruising week in the court of public opinion for Chinese companies working overseas. First anti-corruption campaigner Transparency International said that Chinese multinationals, along with their Indian counterparts, were most likely among companies from 28 countries involved in foreign direct investment to offer bribes to win business. Now the human-rights group, Human Rights Watch has accused China’s four copper miners operating in Zambia, all subsidiaries of the state-owned China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corp., of flouting local and international labor and safety standards. While acknowledging that there had been some improvement, Human Rights Watch’s most pointed comment was that China’s copper miners in Zambia treat their workers just as they do at home.

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More Olympics Games

Foreign minister Yang Jiechi adds his voice to those criticizing the critics of the Beijing Olympics. They are anti-China forces trying to tarnish China’s image, he says, straight down the party line.

Human Rights Watch is the latest to join the other side of the argument, alleging that migrant workers were being exploited to rebuild Beijing for the games, by being cheated of wages, and made to work under dangerous conditions with neither accident insurance nor access to medical and other social services. Earlier in the week, Hollywood star George Clooney spoke about his attempts to get Olympic sponsor Omega, to pressure China over its Dafur policy (attempts that Omega batted aside).

A top-level team headed by Xi Jinping, the man being groomed to follow Hu Jintao as president, has been set up to oversee the run-in to the Games’ opening in August, Xinhua reports. For those of you keeping score at home, DiligenceChina has a drole post from last month summing up the issues surrounding the event. It concludes:

The power of the Olympics may be mostly symbolic – but China is a place where symbols have a lot of power. Look for a smooth, photogenic Games to get China’s propoganda machine cranking out self-congratulatory accounts of the People’s triumph. Unfortunately, it will also reinforce Beijing’s conviction that weather, the media and international relations can all be controlled through rigorous application of correct policy. A noisy or problematic Games will immediately throw Beijing into panic-mode, and could be interesting to watch for a moment or two – until it gets ugly.

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