Chinese companies as transparent as others

An EITI study finds that Chinese companies behave much like other oil gas and mining companies.

China has been accused in the past years of being aggressive in its “grab” for natural resources (see here, here and here for some examples in reporting). Some point to the opaque web of connections and deals surrounding Chinese companies’ investments in Africa.

The International Secretariat is asked regularly about the number of Chinese companies reporting to the EITI and the extent to which these companies are involved in national EITI processes. While we cannot comment on China’s foreign policy, we have investigated if Chinese companies are any different than others when it comes to publishing their numbers in EITI countries - with clear results.

Many Chinese companies report to the EITI

Firstly, at least 90 Chinese companies have disclosed information in EITI reports, including giant state-owned companies such as China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Sinopec.

Secondly, the information disclosed by Chinese companies in EITI Reports goes beyond financial figures. In the most recent DRC, Mongolia and Nigeria reports, the majority of Chinese companies have disclosed information on their real (or “beneficial”) owners. In Afghanistan, oil production contracts with Chinese companies have been published. At the same time, the most significant Chinese contract with Afghanistan remains confidential.

This development is not unique to Chinese companies. With more countries publishing reports under the Standard – which expanded the coverage from mainly revenue figures to wider sector information, such as licensing and ownership – all companies active in EITI countries are disclosing more.

Different level of engagement in different countries

Thirdly, Chinese companies are just as engaged as Western companies.

One way for companies to be engaged in a country’s EITI process is as a member in the multi-stakeholder group (companies active in EITI countries are not per se obliged to participate in MSGs). Companies have the choice of contributing to the national process via an active role, or via a passive one in simply fulfilling their reporting requirements. What we can see from the review is that there is no “Chinese pattern” of engagement. Chinese companies are present in six EITI national multi-stakeholder groups: CNMM in Myanmar, CNPC in Chad, Iraq and Mongolia, MMC in Afghanistan, and Zijin Mining Group (Zeravshan) in Tajikistan. In 17 more countries, they publish the requested information.

When it comes their reliability in reporting there is no particularChinese style” either. In countries like Chad, Liberia and São Tome and Príncipe, delays in EITI reporting from Chinese companies or lack of audited accounts have hindered the quality of EITI Reports, making the figures incomplete and/or unreliable. In all the countries mentioned above, however, there were similar cases of Western companies.

Not singled out

Our review shows that when it comes to disclosing information on their operations, Chinese companies do not stand out either way. Some might be more reluctant to report, but that is not only the case with Chinese companies, as we have seen. In fact, in most EITI countries they publish on time, and in some, are engaged via the multi-stakeholder group.

So, Chinese companies do not appear to behave differently. And if they engage with the EITI and publish what is required in the countries from where they extract natural resources, the perception of their behaviour might also improve.

 

Want to know more? Read our full brief on Chinese companies reporting in EITI implementing countries

The brief will be published in Chinese shortly. If you would like to be notified, please send a message to Ines (imarques@eiti.org).