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Chinese Companies: Most Powerful and Least Transparent

There has been quite a bit of buzz over the fact that China dominated the Forbes Global 2000 (G2000) list at the close of 2014. The G2000 list keeps track of the world’s “largest, most powerful public companies, as measured by revenues, profits, assets and market value.” China has taken the top three spots on the list in 2014, and it has five companies in the top 10. Although China’s strong presence on the list does indicate its economic power, there is an aspect of this issue that many have failed to recognize. The world’s most powerful Chinese companies are among the least transparent.

Chinese Companies in Top 10 of G2000 List
#1 ICBC (Industrial & Commercial Bank of China)
#2 China Construction Bank
#3 Agricultural Bank of China
#9 Bank of China
#10 PetroChina

Transparency International evaluates the largest publicly listed companies’ anti-corruption programs, company holdings, and their disclosure of key financial information on a country-to-country basis. From Transparency International’s 2014 report, it is evident that the Chinese companies in the top 10 of the G2000 list have some of the worst transparency scores.

On a scale from 0-10 (with ten being the most transparent), PetroChina has a score of 2.2, which is the highest score of all of the top Chinese G2000 companies. All of these companies are among the bottom 12 of Transparency International’s list.

Top Chinese Company’s Transparency Scores (Scale 0-10)
2.7 PetroChina
2.2 ICBC (Industrial & Commercial Bank of China)
1.8 China Construction Bank
1.4 Agricultural Bank of China
1.0 Bank of China

With such low levels of transparency, there’s a significant concern that these top Chinese companies are engaging in corruption and unfair business practices. If this is the case, it is unfair for Forbes to compare these companies with other companies that have stronger transparency standards.

Nisha Choksi is the Managing Editor of Universal Mirror. She is working on completing her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) from Northwestern University, focusing on issues related to education and economic development.  Nisha is an active dancer who enjoys traveling and is obsessed with all things beauty.  

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