Chinese State-Owned Companies and Investment in Latin America and Europe

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The Chinese state owned enterprise (CSOE) presents an anomaly in the operation of the well-ordered construction of a self-referencing and closed system of liberal democratic internationalism, especially as that system touches on business responsibilities under national and international human rights and environmental law and markets driven norms. The anomaly is sourced in the increasingly distinct and autonomous framework principles within which it is possible to develop conduct based systems respectful of both human and environmental rights which is emerging as between liberal democratic and Marxist-Leninist systems. This essay considers the forms and manifestations of these disjunctions where CSOEs are used as vehicles for the projection of Chinese economic activity beyond its borders. The essay first situates the CSOE within the political ideology of its home state. The CSOE cannot be understood except as a specific expression of that ideology suited to the times and the context in which it operated. The talk then examines the outward projection of the CSOE national model. To that end the talk focuses on the formal structures for CSOE surveillance by state organs that operationalize the guiding ideology through which they are conceived and operated. This provides the basis for a deeper consideration of the way that the projection of CSOEs abroad is structured within a conceptual cage of policy objectives: specifically the Belt & Road Initiative and emerging conceptions of socialist human rights, including environmental rights and obligations, as these are manifested when CSOEs operate abroad. The focus is on the development of conceptions of risk in that context guiding decisions about the conduct of economic activity. The essay concludes with a suggestion of the greater rift between Marxist-Leninist and liberal democratic approaches – the differences in embracing risk models grounded in prevent-mitigate-remedy strategies.

Professor Larry Catá Backer (白 轲), W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar Professor of Law and International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University.