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26 Aug 2008

Business in China and the Olympics afterglow

Wayne Burns

Talk to senior corporate public affairs executives working in China post the 2008 Olympics and they will tell you confidently that the Beijing Games is already changing business in the Peoples' Republic.

Public affairs practitioners in corporations - at the cutting edge of information flows and stakeholder demands for transparency - say world focus and criticism in some quarters about the Chinese Government's sensitivity about the free-flow of information, has changed corporate and stakeholder expectations.

There is high confidence in many local and multinational corporations trading in China that Government authorities are increasingly accepting the desirability of more transparency in regulatory decisions, and NGO access to decisions about regulation of business.

Why?

According to senior corporate public affairs executives, this is being driven already by expectations of the Chinese Government to be more open and transparent, and a desire by the Chinese Government to be more accepted as an equal player in the international economy.

Companies also say they are already seeing more open and confident NGO and consumer discourse online, including on blogs and wikis in China.

It is very early days to see if this continues. Many multinational corporations will welcome a more transparent regulatory environment in China, including to meet the expectations of stakeholders, including employees and NGOs.

We'll check in six months time with the executives with whom we have been speaking to provide an update, and keep you posted.

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