Established in 2002, China Telecom is a majority state-owned telecommunications service operator. At the end of 2021, China Telecom was one of the world’s largest mobile and broadband operators with 372 million mobile subscribers and 170 million broadband subscribers. The company is the largest data centre operator in China with more than 450 sites. Most of its users are in the People’s Republic of China, though it also serves 41 countries through its international network providing service to other international carriers, multinational enterprises and overseas Chinese customers.
There is an opportunity for China Telecom to support initiatives that contribute to digital opportunities for women and girls and initiatives that increase accessibility for people with disabilities. The company can also report on how the economic value it generates is distributed among its stakeholders.
Little evidence was found in reference to China Telecom’s support for open, sustainable, inclusive and ethical innovation. The company has an opportunity to demonstrate how it practises open innovation and supports technology innovation ecosystems. It can also apply ethical considerations in its research and development (R&D) activities.
Core Social Assessment
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
China Telecom does not commit to respecting human rights or the ILO core labour rights in a public policy statement. Moreover, the company does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks its own operations and its business relationships. While China Telecom has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints, it is unclear if complainants are able to choose to remain anonymous.
China Telecom publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of its own workers, but it does not require its business relationships to commit to respecting worker health and safety. Furthermore, the company lacks disclosure in reference to labour fundamentals. For example, the company is not explicit in stating that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours, and it provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage. China Telecom provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by age and gender, but it does not disclose against any other indicators of diversity per employee category.
China Telecom states that it prohibits bribery and corruption in its annual report, but it does not disclose this commitment in a formal, publicly available policy statement. It does have a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise bribery and corruption concerns and complaints. The company does not disclose any information in relation to tax, such as a global tax strategy or income tax payments for its individual tax jurisdictions. Additionally, China Telecom does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.