(In-)sustainability on the move: From China to Asia?

Panel organised by: Doris Fischer (Universität Würzburg)

Panel description

Over the past decades, China has developed on the basis of relatively low social, environmental and legal standards. As a result, China became an indispensable link of the global network of production chains and gained the nickname “workbench of the world”. Parallel to this development emerged a new generation of entrepreneurs who thrived in using the opportunities offered by reforms and opening to world.

Today, Chinese politics and policies emphasize the importance of sustainable development, with a special focus on environmental protection. At the same time, Chinese firms increasingly go global. They expand their businesses, invest abroad and relocate production to other countries.

The panel will discuss the impact of these developments on Asia. On the one hand, it can be assumed that Chinese firms expand to neighbouring countries in order to avoid stricter regulation and sustainability standards in China. In the context of tightly organized global value chains, stricter sustainability standards translate into higher costs. Thus relocation to Asian countries with lower regulatory standards would be a reasonable move for Chinese entrepreneurs who want to continue profiting from relatively low standards. On the other hand, there is a lively debate about the growing sustainability orientation of Chinese entrepreneurs, claiming that Chinese entrepreneurs are actually pushing for more sustainable development, at least in China. Against this background it could be expected that Chinese entrepreneurs who expand their businesses in Asia rather follow the market instead of lower regulatory standards. They could even contribute to sustainability standards in Asia.

So far, the debates on Chinese regulatory changes and Chinese entrepreneurs’ sustainability orientation have widely ignored the international linkages and implications. This panel will look at the changes in China and discuss their impact on the Asian neighbourhood. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches to the topic will be welcome. Contributions that reflect the perspectives of the Asian neighbouring countries would be especially helpful.

Paper proposal

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