China wants to become a major player in international aid


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In January, China published a blueprint for how it plans to become one of the world’s leading countries in international aid and development. The white paper “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era,” released by the State Council, updates two previous strategy documents and outlines Beijing’s ambitious plans to overhaul its current, rather limited, aid and development initiatives around the world.

But the paper also makes it clear that the Chinese don’t have any plans to adjust their new aid agenda to mirror those of Western-led international organizations and donor states. Instead, the new strategy talks about new “diverse forms” of aid and the integration of China’s development policies with other initiatives like the Belt and Road.

The timing of this new aid plan is critical, as many of those traditional donors are under mounting pressure to cut their foreign aid budgets, and the implications of what the Chinese say they want to do could be significant for Africa and other developing regions.

Stella Hong Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University in the United States, is among the world’s leading experts on Chinese international aid and development. She described the new white paper as a “landmark document” and joins Eric and Cobus to discuss why she feels it’s so important.