Since 1950, China has been leveraging its strong history of domestic achievements in development to support other ‘developing’ countries through its South-South cooperation and has grown into a preeminent provider of financing for global development. This ‘Insight’ aims to contextualize and centralize existing sources of information to provide a broad overview of a) how China frames its own role in international development, b) its financing for development cooperation, and c) its strategic priorities. It finds:
- China does not consider itself a ‘donor’ but rather a “developing country” and a provider of “South-South cooperation”.
- Between 2013 and 2018, China’s annual average spending on foreign assistance reached approximately US$7.0 billion, growing by almost 50% compared to 2010-2012.
- 45% of China’s foreign assistance goes to African countries, followed by Asia (37%) and Latin America (7%)
- China’s ‘ODA-like’ flows in 2019 are estimated at US$5.9 billion, which would make China the sixth largest provider of ODA.
- Although bilateral flows remain predominant, multilateral commitments an increasingly important component of China’s development cooperation, particularly as part of its global response to COVID-19.
- China’s longstanding sectoral priorities include agriculture, infrastructure, and trade, but governance, climate, health, and humanitarian assistance are gaining increased attention.
- Transparency around Chinese development finance remains a challenge despite apparent efforts on the government’s part to improve communication and accountability.
- China’s importance as a global development actor will continue to grow, and its institutional capacities and approaches will develop in parallel.
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