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White paper highlights China's progress in int'l development cooperation

CIDCA| Updated: 2021-01-12

A white paper, titled "China's International Development Cooperation in the New Era," was released by the State Council Information Office of China (SCIO) on Jan 10.

Responding to the international community’s concern on China’s international development cooperation, the white paper expounds China’s principles and policies for international development cooperation after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), introduces the fruitful results achieved in the country’s international development cooperation in the new era, and outlines the positive contribution it made in promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

I. Background and purposes

China entered a new era after the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. President Xi Jinping has considered China’s responsibilities from a global perspective, and proposed the vision of a global community of a shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative. China is committed to pursuing the greater good and shared interests, and upholding the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith for developing relations with other developing countries while supporting the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness for expanding relations with neighboring countries. To this end, President Xi has taken advantage of many major international occasions to announce a broad range of cooperation measures. These present China’s approach, offer its vision, and contribute its strength to resolving global development issues and implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In response to the call of the times, China has been upgrading its foreign assistance into a model of international development cooperation, taking on new initiatives and achieving greater results in this new era.

The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), an agency directly under the State Council, was established in April 2018 to specialize in international development cooperation affairs. China's foreign aid is in compliance with the requirements of the times, transforming and upgrading to ensure international development cooperation while realizing new development in a new era. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of China’s foreign aid, the white paper was released to introduce the principles and practices of China’s current international development cooperation, enhance the international community’s understanding, and demonstrate China’s commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

II. Content and highlights

Consisting of eight chapters, a preface and a conclusion, the white paper is around 26,000 words. The first chapter expounds China’s principles and policies for international development cooperation after the 18th CPC National Congress; the second chapter, by charts and numbers, presents the progress the country has made in international development cooperation since 2013. Chapters 3 to 6 introduce China's international development cooperation in the four aspects of boosting international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, promoting the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, jointly responding to global humanitarian challenges, and supporting developing countries to enhance their independent development capabilities. The seventh chapter outlines the country’s international exchange and cooperation positions, and the eighth chapter looks forward to the future prospects of those positions as they evolve.

The white paper has several main purposes:

First, the white paper expounds China’s original aspiration and founding mission in carrying out international development cooperation. The white paper points out the cultural and philosophical origins of China's international development cooperation right from the start. China has a cultural foundation and national character that attach great importance to good faith, friendship, justice and righteousness. This is an inherent force driving China’s development cooperation, which is based on the following notions: the Chinese nation’s ideal of universal harmony, the Chinese idea of repaying kindness with kindness, the Chinese tradition of internationalism and China’s sense of responsibility as a major country. The Chinese people will always remember the support and help that China has received from other countries and international organizations. When China suffered from natural disasters such as the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, many countries donated money and materials to China despite their own economic difficulties. It is rooted in the Chinese culture that people should return the favor of a drop of water with a spring of water. When other countries encounter difficulties in their development, China always provides them with as much assistance as its capacity allows. It is a duty that China, as a country that has been helped by others, resolutely undertakes, and it is an obligation China honors as a responsible major country.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, President Xi has considered the development trend of China and the world in the new era, and proposed the vision of a global community with a shared future and a commitment to pursuing the greater good and shared interests. That vision demonstrates China's open and inclusive spirit for making greater contributions to the world, and entrusts the country with a new mission in its international development cooperation in the new era.

That cooperation is not only an international responsibility that the world’s largest developing country should bear, but also an indispensable requirement for China to adhere to in its commitment to pursuing the greater good and shared interests and in fulfilling the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind. China strives to make the cake of prosperity bigger, hopes developing countries will advance faster to share the opportunities and benefits offered by open development, and makes efforts to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

Second, the white paper introduces China’s principles for international development cooperation in the new era. China’s international development cooperation in the new era sticks to the following eight principles: respecting each other as equals, doing the best we can to help, focusing on development and improving people’s lives, providing the means for independent development, conducting effective cooperation in diverse forms, ensuring delivery and sustainability, being open and inclusive in promoting exchanges and mutual learning, and advancing with the times and breaking new ground.

Those principles, with Chinese characteristics and rich connotations, were gradually formed in the course of China's foreign assistance. It is the precious wisdom and wealth of 70 years of foreign assistance practice.

China always supports development cooperation on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It holds that all countries, regardless of size, strength and wealth, are equal members of the international community. When cooperating with other countries for development, no country should interfere in their efforts to find a development path suited to their own national conditions, interfere in their internal affairs, impose its own will on them, attach political strings, or pursue political self-interest.

China respects other developing countries’ opinions, and determines cooperation projects through friendly consultation and mutual agreement. It does not launch projects in conflict with its partners’ development level and needs. China is always true in word and resolute in deed. It honors its commitments and ensures that all projects achieve good results. It does its best within its capabilities to help and increases the overall efficiency in development cooperation while promoting openness and innovation. China’s international development cooperation principle conforms to the universally-recognized principles of international relations, adapts to China’s current national circumstances and strengths, meets the urgent demands of developing countries for development and improvement in people’s livelihoods, and aligns with the international trend of pursuing peace, development, and win-win cooperation. China will unswervingly stick to its international development cooperation principles in the new era, and actively promote continuous progress in international development cooperation.

Third, the white paper comprehensively introduces the actions and contributions China has made in international development cooperation since 2013. A number of China-aided projects have been carried out in developing countries. With charts and numbers, it summarizes the scale and proportion of China’s international development cooperation funds in the past six years and analyzes the distribution of countries and regions in receipt of aid, methods of foreign aid, and project fields. It visually displays China’s achievements in international development cooperation, presents diversified cooperation forms such as the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund and the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development, and introduces the progress made in the reform and management of China's foreign aid agencies.

In order to fully display the overall efficiency and highlights of China's international development cooperation, the white paper elaborates on the fruitful results achieved in cooperation projects from four aspects. First, it boosts the joint building of the Belt and Road. China's international development cooperation promotes policy coordination, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, and contributes to the high-quality development of the Belt and Road. Second, it injects energy into the implementation of the global development agenda. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a global initiative for development cooperation, closely linked to the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. As a responsible member of the international community, China will help other developing countries implement the sustainable development agenda as part of its international development cooperation. The white paper demonstrates China’s contribution to the sustainable development agenda from the eight aspects of poverty eradication, food security, health care, education, gender equality, infrastructure, sustainable and innovation-driven economic growth, and environmental protection. Third, it responds to global humanitarian challenges such as public health, natural disasters, and immigration difficulties, which are becoming increasingly severe. The white paper summarizes China’s efforts in international development cooperation to address global challenges, and lists the most concentrated and most extensive assistance since the founding of the People's Republic of China. The wide-ranging emergency humanitarian action against the epidemic demonstrates that China is a big country that is responsible for the public and harmonious cooperation. Public health risks, natural disasters, migrant and refugee crises, and many other humanitarian issues represent an ever greater threat to the world today. The white paper summarizes China’s efforts in responding to global challenges, and introduces China’s most intensive and largest-scale emergency humanitarian assistance mission since 1949. It demonstrates that China pursues an ideal world where the Great Way rules for the common good, and reflects that as a responsible major power China advocates cooperation and mutual help.

Fourth, the white paper contributes wisdom to South-South cooperation. As the largest developing country in the world, China is a firm supporter, active participant and important contributor to South-South cooperation. China unreservedly shares with other developing countries its dynamic and abundant experience in governance as well as its advanced technologies accumulated through long-term practice, and encourages other developing countries to tap their own potential for development. It deepens South-South cooperation and ultimately helps relevant countries achieve independent development.

Fourth, the white paper puts forward the future prospects of China’s international development cooperation. It outlines the future development path of China's international development cooperation, responds to the world's expectations, and injects Chinese strength into global development. First, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, China will continue to provide anti-pandemic assistance to other developing countries, help them improve the public health governance systems, and make contribution to the building of a global community of health for all. Second, China will persevere with a people-centered approach, focus on improving living standards, and earnestly implement the cooperation initiatives announced by President Xi at major international events including the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the summits commemorating the UN’s 70th anniversary, the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the 73rd World Health Assembly. China will work to integrate its responsibilities in building the Belt and Road and in implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, help developing countries resume economic and social development, and enhance people’s sense of fulfillment and happiness. Third, China will optimize management, improve its policy-making and management skills, and strive to enhance the quality of international development cooperation.

III. Positive influences

With COVID-19 still raging globally, the world is undergoing rapid changes unseen in a century. The desire of all countries to seek peace and development has become even more urgent. The release of the white paper has sent a positive signal to the international community and is of great significance.

First, it declares China's firm stand and determination to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. As a developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, China is standing at the historic crossroad of the “Two Centenary Goals,” and is about to embark on a new journey of comprehensively building a modern socialist country. Meanwhile, the Chinese people deeply feel the yearning of the people of other countries to pursue a better life. The white paper points out that promoting a global community of a shared future is the mission of China’s international development cooperation and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, with higher priority given to the former, is its underlying guideline. China sticks to South-South cooperation, turns the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind into actions by lending a helping hand to people of all countries in need, and helps other developing countries, especially those least developed, reduce poverty and improve their people’s lives. 

The unprecedented level of interconnection and interdependence among countries continues to deepen. Of the problems and challenges confronting world development none can be resolved by a single country alone. Only solidarity and cooperation can cope with various global risks and challenges. China, as true follower of multilateralism, upholds the international system with the UN at its core, actively supports the work of UN agencies and other relevant organizations through international development cooperation, and works with other countries and international organizations around the world to cope with global challenges such as the public health crisis and severe economic recession. China also makes positive contributions to the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Second, it highlights the concept of international development cooperation in improving people's livelihood and promoting development. The white paper stresses that when carrying out development cooperation China emphasizes coordination of plans and strategies with partner countries, and responds to the priority needs of developing countries for social and economic progress. Aiming to improve people’s wellbeing and provide them with tangible gains, China carries out aid project in poverty alleviation, disaster relief, education, health care, agriculture, employment, environmental protection, and climate change response, and actively participates in emergency humanitarian relief operations.

The white paper clearly presents that China supports other developing countries in embarking on an independent, green and sustainable development path in its international development cooperation. First, to promote independent development, guided by the conviction that “it is more helpful to teach people how to fish than to just give them fish”, China trains technical professionals and capable personnel in governance for developing countries by increasing support in capacity building, planning, technology transfer, and cultural exchanges. It helps them improve their capacity for governance, planning, and economic development, and supports them in exploring their own development paths consistent with their national conditions. Second, as regards the implementation of green development, China is an active participant in the Paris Agreement to address climate change. Upholding the vision of harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature, China has proactively assisted other developing countries in promoting new energy, protecting the environment, and addressing climate change. China pays attention to the impact on the ecological environment of various aid projects, supports other developing countries to cope with climate change, firmly guards the global climate governance, and makes green the background color of international development cooperation projects. Third, by insisting on sustainable development for 70 years China’s foreign aid has meant completion and launching of a large number of projects. To ensure the lasting impact and overall efficiency of China-aid projects, China helps countries improve the skills of their project management personnel and localize project management, promoting vocational training and technical cooperation.

Third, the release of the white paper fulfills duties in serving the construction of a new development pattern. A series of strategic plans and arrangements have been made since the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. In the new era, China's international development cooperation will play an active role in building a "dual circulation" development pattern in which domestic economic cycles play a leading role while international economic cycles remain its extension and supplement. A large number of China-aided projects have tightened the cooperation bond between China and other developing countries, enhanced the friendship between the Chinese people and the people of other countries, laid a solid foundation and fostered space for expanding common interests and deepening practical cooperation, which helps release more cooperation and win-win benefits and creates new development opportunities. The white paper points out that China does the best it can to help and takes both the domestic and international situation into consideration. China gives full play to its comparative strengths, and performs international duties compatible with its national strength. It will not launch projects in conflict with its partners’ development levels and needs. Within the framework of South-South cooperation, it provides as much assistance to other developing countries as it can.

Fourth, it reflects an open and inclusive international cooperation attitude. The white paper stresses that China is open to exchanges and cooperation in the field of international development, and works for a more equitable and balanced global development partnership. On the one hand, China increases communication and exchanges with relevant countries and international organizations, and achieves common development through mutual learning. On the other hand, under the premise of fully respecting the wishes of countries in receipt of aid through the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund and the establishment of funds in multilateral institutions, China has carried out pragmatic cooperation with relevant countries and international organizations to jointly support the sustainable development of other developing countries and tackle global challenges. That joint action not only meets the international trend of win-win cooperation, but is also a necessary choice for the active development of global partnerships. It demonstrates China's firm defense of multilateralism and active participation in the reform and construction of the global governance system. It will play a constructive role in promoting the building of a new type of international relations and contribute to the cause of global international development cooperation.

To quote a Chinese poem, "The strong pass of the enemy is like a wall of iron, yet with strong strides we are conquering its summit." China will continue to uphold the fine tradition of helping those in need, fulfill its moral duties as a responsible major country, see that its future is closely connected with that of the rest of the world and that the interests of the Chinese people are integrated with the common interests of the people of other countries. It will contribute to mankind’s common well-being and the building of a global community with a shared future. 

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