China’s quick economic recovery from COVID-19 has presented a narrow but vast opportunity to build an economy that is cleaner, fairer, and safer. Will China grab this opportunity? The answer rests with both business managers and the government. Based on a questionnaire survey of 1160 owners and managers of companies headquartered in 32 regions of China and covering 30 industries, this paper explores how COVID-19 has impacted Chinese business, especially with regard to the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental). The results suggest that Chinese companies’ sustainability priorities have been shifted towards the social dimension both during COVID-19 and into the post-pandemic phase, regardless of the type of ownership, company size, or market focus (domestic, overseas, or mixture of the two). However, all types of company prioritize the need for economic sustainability in the post-pandemic phase and in relative terms the importance of the environmental dimension has been diminished. Hence the potential for a post-pandemic environmental rebound effect in China is clear. But it does not have to be the case if Chinese businesses and the government take actions to change its recovery plans to embrace the environmental dimension of sustainability. The paper puts forward some suggestions and recommendations for businesses and the government.
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