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Chinese Developers, Contractors, and Subcontractors are companies that design, construct, and operate BRI projects. A combination of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private-owned enterprises (POEs) act as developers and contractors — and, in some cases, subcontractors — for infrastructure under the umbrella of the BRI. Central state-owned enterprises (CSOEs) are large companies with expansive portfolios of projects both inside and outside of China. While CSOEs are overseen by the State-owned Assets and Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the Chinese Government and the Central Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CCP), provincial and municipal departments of the SASAC have direct oversight of 100,000 subnational SOEs’ operations.

Both SOEs and POEs could be massive corporations with subsidiaries or provincial branches, but they could also be small companies with limited capacities. The size of Chinese companies will have an impact on their abilities to maintain websites and social media accounts; produce and disclose corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability reports or statements, among other project-related information; conduct proper due diligence; and engage local communities in BRI host countries. These companies’ roles and responsibilities, which should be clearly stipulated in project financing agreements and contracts, will differ for Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Build-Own-Operate (BOO), Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT), Design-Build-Finance-Operate (DBFO), Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM), and Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) contracts, as well as equity investments and subcontracting.

Primary Roles and Responsibilities of Chinese Developers:

  • Secure insurance from insurers and funding from financiers for each project.
  • For some BOT projects, large developers and contractors may use their own funds — instead of applying for loans.
  • Manage each project’s budget.
  • Work with other companies through a joint venture (JV) or a consortium.
  • Bring on contractors and subcontractors for project implementation and operations, especially for larger and highly complex infrastructure projects.
  • Oversee the design, planning, implementation, and operation of BRI projects.
  • Hire environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) consultants to conduct initial scoping of proposed projects and identify potentially affected people, prepare and implement ESIAs, and prepare environmental and social management plans (ESMPs).
    • Disclose ESIAs and ESMPs on their websites.
    • Share documents in the local languages with affected people.
  • Support — and possibly engage in — the host country government’s processes for acquiring land and providing adequate compensation, resettlement, and livelihood restoration assistance to local communities.
  • Hire experts/researchers to individually or collectively conduct — or, at minimum, validate — periodic environmental and social monitoring reports.

Possible Roles and Responsibilities of Chinese Developers, Contractors, and Subcontractors:

  • Maintain multilingual websites and social media accounts.
  • Produce and disclose annual reports or statements on CSR and sustainability.
  • Regularly inform, consult, and collaborate with potentially affected people, civil society organizations (CSOs)/nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders.
  • Consult Indigenous peoples and obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
  • Evaluate and review different types of risks — including commercial, environmental, social, political, and reputational risks — before beginning each project, and throughout the project life cycle.
  • Abide by requirements set in project financing agreements, contracts, and other documents.
  • Establish and maintain a grievance mechanism for local communities to raise queries/concerns/complaints for each project. 
  • Recruit and hire local workers and protect their rights.