Strategic philanthrophy (2 November 2007)



The global culture is a material culture which does not yet have a driving moral force.


Remarks by Maurice Strong at the CSR Conference, Beijing

Globalisation - we know that it is really a change process. Global developments affect every national interest. And nations affect and contribute to and are affected by glob~disation. It is a period of change and turbulence and although it does not go away, it does vary, because the weight of the participants varies: China has moved from a traditional leader which went through a very difficult period to a great force again in this world. What happens in China affects the world, what happens in the world affects China. That interaction is creating continuous turbulence within China and in China's relationship with others. That is normal. So, the real question is: How do you manage this process? This question is the key-challenge to every government and to every corporation.

China is doing a very good job, by any standard. China just had a party congress. And it is not -as some critics say -just a dictatorship with somebody sitting there giving orders from on high. China has its own distinctive democratic type process. The process of identifying talent, helping it to rise up through the party is not one of rising up to the top by being a TV-or a movie star or a very rich person without any experience. By the time that China's leaders emerge they have a lot of experience. And that is what the Communist Party does: It reaches into every section of Chinas society: Identifying potential leaders, educating them, putting them in the place, where they can get experience, where they can show their performance, and climb up to higher levels of leadership.

A leadership system

It is a leadership system and it works. Even those who do not agree how China runs its affairs have to agree that it is one of the best managed governments in the world. There are others. Though China is not perfect, it is rising to be one of the very best.

And the leadership is committed to making China a harmonious society. That is what CSR is about. But CSR is nothing mystical, it is an extension of the corporate world of values that we need to ensure and adhere to. And we do it, because sometimes it is the right thing to do and sometimes we do it, because it is what we are expected to do. But in any event, CSR cannot be divorced from this whole processes.

One of the things of globalisation is that it sets up a dichotomy between the traditional cultures and the global culture. There is a tension between cultures in which people have grown up and lived and the global culture. They are captured by the global culture. But it is not value-oriented. The global culture is a material culture which does not yet have a driving moral force.

Strategic philanthropy... I like the word. Just giving things is occasionally good in emergency cases and moments of distress for example. But strategic philanthropy is much more difficult than simply giving money away. What it needs is to create a reciprocal civic obligation. Social family and social considerations, your locality and your family are real factors. Education is an absolutely critical factor. Every Chinese does everything to get it; and China and the world benefits.

Two-way relationship

Another issue is the role of foreigners: We should never think that we are advising the Chinese. We interact with the Chinese in a collaborative way and we both gain. It is a two-way relationship; it is a mutual learning experience.
We have to expect more turbulence in this region. This area is fraught with potential for conflict. North East Asia does not have a treaty to prevent and resolve conflicts. North Korea is a critical issue; further there is tremendous competition for resources; there are tensions over competing claims for offshore resources, access to petroleum and so on.

So there is a tremendous tension and there will be continuing turbulence. Taiwan issue and various other issues could give rise to conflict, but Taiwan is probably the most acute. China's role will be absolutely critical in maintaining stability and peace in this area. China wants peace, it needs peace, it knows that only through a peaceful development it can achieve its goals as a great power and a harmonious society.

The U.S. Congress Budget Office had just released a notice that for the United States alone costs for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be of around 2.4 trillion dollars. We seem to be able to afford any costs for war; but only pennies for peace.