China's Foreign Aid Work

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 15:42
text size: T | T

    China’s foreign aid work started in 1950. China had provided bilateral assistance to 164 countries and regional organizations as of the end of 2009. We helped to build over 2,100 projects and train about 120,000 personnel in a variety of fields. We sent abroad more than 600,000 experts and technical personnel, over 20,000 medical personnel and 400 youth volunteers. China reduced or cancelled 380 loan obligations of 50 heavily indebted poor countries and the least developed countries.

    During the past 60 years, we have achieved substantial results in foreign aid work, significantly contributing to safeguarding world peace and promoting prosperity and development for all. One, foreign aid has promoted economic and social development in many developing countries. China has helped many developing countries construct their industrial, agricultural and major infrastructure projects, and set up technology demonstration centers and provided them with materials and personnel training. This aid greatly improved the recipient countries’ ability to develop on their own. For instance, the Tanzania-Zambia railway and the Gwadar Port in Pakistan have become major traffic hubs in their respective countries. The public works projects and social welfare projects that China helped build, such as hospitals, schools, gyms, water supply facilities and low-cost housing, have improved the living conditions of the local people. Chinese medical workers have helped to heal billions of people in recipient countries. Two, Chinese foreign aid work has enhanced the friendship between China and many other developing countries. China’s foreign aid has further strengthened and developed the traditional friendship between China and many recipient countries and helped to establish all-weather friendships with developing countries. After the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, Pakistan, Samoa and other recipient countries did their utmost to provide prompt assistance to China in spite of their own problems. Three, Chinese foreign aid work has strengthened mutually beneficial cooperation with many other developing countries. Through our various aid projects, we helped recipient countries develop themselves as well as helped them become acquainted with Chinese enterprises, products and technologies. This has driven bilateral economic and trade cooperation as well as helped Chinese enterprises carry out their “go global” strategy. Four, Chinese foreign aid has helped China raise its international standing and project an excellent international image. We helped recipient countries improve the lives of their people, promoted their development and promoted implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals. These efforts have been recognized and praised by the international community. They have also strengthened China’s international standing and influence and created an international image of China as a responsible large country.

    This photo, taken on January 28, 2011, shows the construction site of the new African Union (AU) Conference Center in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The AU Conference Center is one of China’s key aid projects in Africa, and is the largest construction project that China has launched to aid Africa following the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. The center, which began construction on June 16, 2009, is set to be completed by the end of 2011. Upon its completion, this modern, firs-trate and fullyfunctional conference center will be used to stage meetings of the African Union, which in the past has convened its summit meetings at venues provided by other organizations. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Zhao Yingquan
    China has been carrying out foreign aid work for about 60 years, during which time some unique features have gradually emerged. One, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council attached great importance to foreign aid and directly supervised the work. Time has shown that this is a fundamental guarantee for success in foreign aid work in each stage of history. Two, we always provided foreign aid in accordance with our ability to do so and have continually added new fields for foreign aid and improved our foreign aid work. When we began our foreign aid work, we mainly provided materials and funds for major landmark projects such as infrastructure projects, gradually expanding work to include aid to improve the lives of the local people such as aid for agriculture, medicine and education, and emergency aid such as disaster relief. In addition Chinese aid has expanded its scope from free aid and interest-free loans to a variety of forms including concessional loans and mixed loans to meet the needs of different recipient countries. We began granting aid in the form of human resource development and training on top of traditional forms of aid. Training programs now include 150 disciplines in 20 fields including agriculture, education, health and administration of justice. Three, we constantly improved the management system of foreign aid to provide sound institutional guarantees for foreign aid. The past 60 years of reforms and innovations in its management have gradually expanded the network from the central government to local governments, from domestic work to overseas work, and from government departments to enterprises and agencies. The foreign aid management system now includes central government departments, local governments, financial institutions and enterprises that make decisions, carry out projects and exercise mutual oversight under the leadership and coordination of the Ministry of Commerce. Four, we worked very hard to develop a contingent of highly-trained, very professional personnel for foreign aid. The many people working in the field of foreign aid have not only made great contributions over the past 60 years to the economic and social development of recipient countries, but also strengthened the friendship between China and other countries. More than 700 Chinese foreign aid workers sacrificed their lives for foreign aid work. Since 2002, 64 Chinese foreign aid workers and groups have received presidential honors, knighthoods and other honors.

    The world is now undergoing unprecedented development, reform and adjustment. There are still 1.4 billion people in the world living in extreme poverty according to the standards set by the UN. In addition, problems such as climate change, food security, energy and resource security, environmental pollution, major natural disasters and epidemics of major infectious diseases have become increasingly serious and all kinds of development-related issues have emerged. Many developing countries are having great difficulty in meeting the UN Millennium Goals. Although Western countries have increased their foreign aid spending and some recently prosperous large countries have made greater efforts to provide assistance to developing countries, meeting the demand for aid funding is still difficult and the gap between supply and demand is great. Because China’s national strengthen is increasing, many other developing countries hope China can provide even more assistance.

    In spite of the fact that China’s economic strength has greatly increased since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy, China is still a developing country with a large population, a weak economic base and unbalanced economic development. China’s GDP ranked third in the world in 2009, but GPD per capita was only a little over US$3,600, ranking about 100 in the world and less than the half of the global average of US$ 8,000. The size of China’s poor population is the second largest in the world, with over 40 million people living in extreme poverty and 270 million categorized as low-income. Moreover, jobs need to be found for an additional 24 million people every year. China is still facing many difficult tasks in its own development. At the same time, there are aspects of our foreign aid work that are not in line with the current situation. We have not fully mobilized the enthusiasm of all localities to participate in foreign aid work, for example, and we need to improve understanding and support for foreign aid work. These issues need to be constantly addressed in our future work.

    The international political and economic situation has greatly changed and the international balance of power is now undergoing major shifts. The role of developing countries in safeguarding world peace and promoting development for all has become stronger. Our basic stand is that we must strengthen and improve foreign aid work in order to help other developing countries improve their ability to develop on their own and ensure that all countries can develop. Truly promoting the comprehensive social and economic development of recipient countries by carrying out foreign aid work and fulfilling our international obligations is an important way for China to project an image as a responsible large country that places great importance on promoting peace and cooperation. It is also an effective way for China to make its due contribution to the development of a harmonious world.

    One, we need to improve the structure of our foreign aid and make innovations in the way we give foreign aid. We need to scientifically adjust the distribution of recipient counties to put more emphasis on the least developed countries and small developing island countries. We need to improve the structure of foreign aid projects to increase foreign aid for public works such as hospitals, schools and water supply projects that are urgently needed, are welcomed by the residents of recipient countries and affect large numbers of people as well as solar energy, methane production, and small-scale hydropower projects that help to address climate change and environmental protection issues. We need to make reasonable arrangements for the scale and proportions of free aid, interest-free loans, and concessional loans to improve the overall efficiency of the use of capital. This will allow us to increase aid to countries that are having difficulty implementing the UN Millennium Goals and difficulties in related areas. While working to consolidate effective traditional foreign aid work, we need to make innovations to balance “hard aid” for entire projects and “soft aid” for human resource development.

    Two, we need to improve the overall quality of foreign aid projects by creating more high-standard projects. We need to take care in selecting projects to ensure safety, quality, function, scheduling and cost concerns are all met. We need to improve the government procurement system to bring it in line with the actual situation in foreign aid work to ensure that the bidding process is fair, rational and transparent. We need to carry out dynamic management of foreign aid projects according to the type of enterprises involved, raise the standards for allowing enterprises to carry out foreign aid projects and introduce a mechanism for disqualifying enterprises in order to develop a group of high quality leading enterprises for foreign aid projects. We need to set up a permanent auditing and oversight mechanism and improve the methods for overseeing and investigating the implementation of projects. We need to improve the way agencies stationed abroad exercise direct management, provide on-site guidance and carry out follow-up oversight for enterprises carrying out foreign aid work and foreign aid projects. Local governments need to improve guidance, coordination, oversight and management of local enterprises involved in foreign aid projects. Enterprises must be prohibited from contracting projects to a third party, sub-contracting for portions of a project needs to be standardized and all illegal activities need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    Three, we need to expand the scope of foreign aid work to improve the ability of recipient countries to carry out development on their own. We will encourage and support Chinese enterprises wishing to invest in countries receiving aid to help them develop their national industries, increase their government revenue, ease their employment pressures and improve the lives of their people, and help them develop their own driving force for development. Foreign investment should be closely integrated with efforts to help recipient countries cultivate personnel and transfer applicable technology while abiding by local laws and regulations, respecting local customs and habits, maintaining good relations with the local people, actively participating in public welfare undertaking and working to protect the ecological environment. We need to continue opening our markets wider to recipient countries and adopt measures such as reduction or exemption of tariffs to create the conditions for countries receiving aid, particularly the least developed countries, to send exports to China. We need to strengthen agriculture related cooperation with recipient countries and ensure that they benefit from the cooperation by setting up demonstration centers and sending high-level experts to help them. We need to step up foreign aid in the form of training, focusing on the fields of economic development, management of society, agriculture, public health, education and environmental protection, and make training more focused and effective.

    Four, we need to improve systems and mechanisms to strengthen guarantees. We need to improve the mechanism for coordination among involved departments under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce. We need to improve decision-making, implementation and oversight for foreign aid work to strengthen the system of checks and balances. We need to encourage local governments and the non-public sector to participate in foreign aid work and improve standards and guidance for their activities. We need to increase the participation of recipient countries in decision-making, implementation, evaluation and continuing management of projects. We need to actively and appropriately promote international exchange and cooperation to learn about the effective practices and measures employed in foreign aid work by other countries. We will accelerate efforts to formulate laws on foreign aid to institutionalize and standardize foreign aid work and put it on a stronger legal footing. We must develop a contingent of foreign aid personnel with a correct political orientation, good professional qualifications, quick responses and the ability to tackle difficult tasks. We need to take effective measures to ensure the legal rights and interests of enterprises and the safety of personnel engaged in foreign aid.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.19, 2010)

Note: Author: Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China   


  Related readings:

 Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China

 The Ministry of Commerce is a component department of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. The Ministry is in charge of domestic and foreign trade and international economic cooperation. Its main duties are to carry out research and formulate policies, laws and regulations for standardizing market operation and distribution, promote the development and improvement of the market system, deepen reform of the distribution system, monitor and analyze market operation and commodity supply and demand, organize the development of international economic cooperation and take responsibility for organizing and coordinating matters related to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy practices and organizing investigations of industrial damages.

Qiushi Journal | English Edition of Qiushi Jounrnal | Contact us | Subscription Copyright by Qiushi Journal, All rights reserved