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Prospects and Challenges for EU-China Relations in the 21st Century

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement

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Edited By Jing Men and Giuseppe Balducci

In 25 years, EU-China relations have come far, further than many could have imagined – but how much further can these relations be taken? Today, their bilateral relations are at a crossroads. In effect, it has been 25 years since the EU and China agreed upon the legally binding Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, which sets the basis for their diplomatic relations. In an ever increasingly complex and globalised international environment, these actors have become mutually interdependent on a variety of levels. In 2007, they agreed to revise and update the 1985 accord and replace it with an all-encompassing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. However, more than three years passed, and there are many points of contention which need to be negotiated. What obstacles are blocking this agreement? How can these obstacles be overcome? What concessions should be made and where?
This book will provide an up-to-date analysis of the problematic concerns, and the means to resolve these issues, that range from human rights, to international trade conflicts and climate change.

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CHAPTER 3 The European Model of CSR and Labour Standards in China (Frauke S. Austermann) 81

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81 CHAPTER 3 The European Model of CSR and Labour Standards in China Frauke S. AUSTERMANN China’s weight in the world economy is increasing at breathtaking speed. Consequently, it is pivotal that Chinese business is pursued in a sustainable way. In order to achieve this, the Chinese government increasingly focuses on long-term environmental and social develop- ment, and no longer exclusively on growth rates. 1 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a key tool in making businesses operate sustainably. It can be defined as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large.”2 Labour standards form a decisive part of CSR – they constitute a major issue within the Chinese economy as they are often insufficiently adhered to.3 The importance of CSR for the EU-China relationship is also growing, given the fact that it is included in the most recent sectoral dialogues between the EU and China, and is also considered as an “emerging issue at the European Chamber of Commerce in China.”4 However, since CSR has only recently emerged, it is crucial to research why and how it could 1 Victorien Wu, ‘Labor Relations in Focus: The PRC Government’s Effort to Better Protect Worker’s Rights Spring from Worries about China’s Social Stability,’ China Business Review, November-December 2006, p. 3. 2 World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), ‘Corporate Social Responsibility....

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