Related Articles Commentary Paper SIIS Report
Dec 15 2017
The Development and Transformation of China’s Foreign Aid
By Zhang Haibing

China’s foreign aid has gradually changed itself from a backstage to a frontstage presence, from more simplified forms of capital, personnel, and material support to pluralized forms of assistance, from a bilateralaid-centricapproach to more trilateral and multilateral development cooperation, and from an aid-recipient rather than aid-donor to an emerging major donor with much more influence.

The Development of China’s Foreign Aid

Four Stages

There have been roughly four stages of development for China’s foreign aid. The first phase covers the period from the years after 1949 to the time of reform and opening-up. It had the obvious feature of ideologically-colored foreign aid, mainly arising from the strategic need of vindicating national independence. The second phase corresponds to the launch of the reform and opening-up, which used the aid as a complementary means to enhance the effect of the “blood-transmitting” approach used in cooperation with the recipient countries. It also led to a more comprehensive aid strategy with the combination of aid and investment followed by more trade and contracting projects. The third phase is the period of institutional building. Since the 21st century, China has paid more attention to the integrity and synergy in the aid cooperation with traditional recipient countries in the Asia, Africa, and Latin America regions. A series of forums were established and gradually developed, such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China-CELAC Forum, China-ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, etc. Since 2013, China’s foreign aid has come into the important fourth phase of development, with China gradually growing into a major donor country, focusing more on the sharing of development ideas, experience, and values rat