Consolidating Cooperation Consensus, Sharing Development Results and Building a Community with a Shared Future
——Transcript of Chairman of China International Development Cooperation Agency Luo Zhaohui's Interview with World Affairs Pictorial · Foreign Affairs Horizon
Recently, Mr. Luo Zhaohui, chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), had an interview with World Affairs Pictorial · Foreign Affairs Horizon and answered questions on the development history, tasks, achievements, characteristics and future direction of China's international development cooperation and foreign aid.
Foreign Affairs Horizon：Mr. Luo, would you please briefly introduce the achievements of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) in the past 5 years since its establishment? What are the major highlights?
Luo Zhaohui：In comparison to the 74-year history of China's foreign aid, 5 years is relatively short, yet the five-year accomplishments are remarkable.
The most significant highlight undoubtedly lies in spearheading international cooperation during the pandemic. Amid the backdrop of unprecedented changes and the once-in-a-century pandemic, under the personal leadership of President Xi Jinping, we carried out the largest-scale and longest-duration humanitarian relief since the founding of the People's Republic of China. Assuming the role of a responsible major country, we spearheaded international collaboration against the pandemic, providing a substantial amount of anti-pandemic supplies to over 160 countries and international organizations, and delivering more than 2.2 billion vaccine doses to over 110 countries and international organizations. One out of every three COVID-19 vaccine doses used globally comes from China. Heads of state expressed their gratitude to President Xi Jinping, and leaders from more than 30 countries attended vaccine handover ceremonies at the airport in person, and were among the first to get vaccinated with Chinese dose in their countries. The International media widely reported the events, comparing China's vaccine to the “timely rain”. We, in turn, will always remember the emergency assistance extended to China by the international community at the initial stages of the pandemic.
In addition to cooperating with the international community to fight the pandemic, we have done the following over the past 5 years:
Fully implement the Global Development Initiative (GDI): Two years ago, in response to the global trend and the needs of various countries, President Xi Jinping put forth the GDI, calling on the international community to focus on global development and revive cooperation. In 2022, President Xi Jinping announced 32 measures under the GDI. CIDCA has also collaborated with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, launching a 2 billion USD fund to advance the initiative in a steady and sustained manner. Currently, the "Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund" is operating smoothly, the Global Development Promotion Center has been established, and over 200 "small yet smart" projects have commenced. Just in July, CIDCA held the First High-Level Conference of the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message. More than 1,000 delegates from 158 countries attended the conference. It was announced at the conference that joint efforts would be made to put in place a global development project repository and fund pool.
Advancing High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation: The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed a decade ago, has yielded fruitful results. Notable progress can be seen in the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the successful operation of the China-Laos Railway, the smooth advancement of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, and the establishment of the first expressway in East Africa. Many international figures have written letters to Chinese leaders, expressing their appreciation. Moreover, China places high importance on debt relief, ensuring that no country falls into a debt crisis due to participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Leading South-South Development Cooperation with Notable Results: Through complete projects, technological assistance, emergency humanitarian aid, and human resources training, we have contributed to global common development, and helped enhance the economic and social well-being of developing countries with over 6,000 livelihood projects. In the meantime, we attach importance to expanding trilateral and multilateral cooperation, working with more than 10 international organizations and social groups, including the United Nations, to implement a range of small livelihood projects in over 50 countries. Recently, China facilitated a historic expansion of the BRICS, further consolidating the "Global South" and elevating South-South development cooperation to a new high.
Sharing Governance Experience: China's path to modernization offers a new alternative to realizing modernization. In China we believe that we should not only give people fish, but also teach them how to fish. We actively engage in sharing governance experience, support developing countries in exploring sustainable development paths suited to their national reality, and assist them in enhancing and modernizing their governance capacity. To date, China has trained over 400,000 professionals in various fields for various countries. The Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development has been established at Peking University, having trained over 300 masters and doctoral graduates from over 70 countries. The institute was inaugurated by President Xi Jinping at the United Nations 8 years ago. Additionally, China has assisted in the construction of Nyerere Leadership School in Africa.
Foreign Affairs Horizon：Why is the China International Development Cooperation Agency named as such instead of "Foreign Aid Agency"?
Luo Zhaohui：That's a good question. In 2018, when the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) was established, the reform plan for the Party and state institutions decided on the name "China International Development Cooperation Agency", instead of "Foreign Aid Agency". It embodies the high expectations for and clear requirements of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, that is, to transform China's outbound assistance into international development cooperation in the new era. This decision provides an important institutional guarantee for the work of transformation and upgrading in this regard.
In recent years, international organizations such as the United Nations have reflected on the limitations of traditional official development assistance, and worked to transform development assistance into international development cooperation. This approach emphasizes sustainable development assistance and aims to help countries develop their inherent driving force for growth. The concept of “development cooperation partners” has been introduced to replace the traditional notions of "donor" and "recipient" countries.
Since its establishment, CIDCA has diligently fulfilled the mission entrusted by the Party Central Committee, and innovated on the basis of what has worked in the past. While sticking to our strengths, we have aligned with international practices and actively explored new methods and areas, with a view to upgrading foreign assistance to a model of international development cooperation. It has shifted from traditional one-way, aid-based assistance to a mutually beneficial, development cooperation model; and from government-driven approaches to a more diverse participation pattern involving governments, local entities, social groups, international organizations, and others. It has shifted from the conventional model of donor-recipient relationships to a model combining aid, trade and investment, and involving governmental, social, commercial and international financing.
In September 2021, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative, marking a new starting point for the transformation and upgrade of China's international development cooperation. This marked a crucial step towards international development cooperation featuring both multilateral and bilateral cooperation, involving diverse participants, various connections and different channels of resources. President Xi Jinping announced at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that China is prepared to invest more resources in global development cooperation.
Going forward, CIDCA will stick to the goal of promoting "international development cooperation", deepen the reform of foreign aid, advance the transformation and upgrade of foreign aid, and contribute to the high-quality development of China's international development cooperation in the new era.
Foreign Affairs Horizon：Why did the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China specifically emphasize the need to invest more resources in international development cooperation? What are the characteristics of China's foreign aid?
Luo Zhaohui：On August 18th last year, the People's Daily prominently published an article by our agency titled China's Foreign Aid Demonstrates the Sense of Mission of a Major Party and a Major Country. The article elaborated on the necessity, immediate importance, and profound significance for China, a developing country, to engage in foreign aid. China's foreign aid endeavor testifies to the saying that giving roses to others leaves a fragrance in your hand.
From a historical perspective, China's foreign aid has its theoretical and practical foundation, stemmed from nearly 200 years of Marxist internationalism, and is rooted in China's 5,000 years of fine traditional culture, the Communist Party of China's century-long history, and 74 years of foreign aid practices by the People's Republic of China. China's international development cooperation is based on South-South Cooperation. We stay committed to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". We stick on to the North-South Cooperation as the main channel, and we take South-South cooperation as a conducive supplement. We bear international responsibilities commensurate with our development stage and capabilities.
In terms of its profound significance, first and foremost, we engage in foreign aid to act on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. President Xi Jinping, who grasps the pulse of the times, puts forth the ingenious and important vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, by inheriting and developing Marxist thought on internationalism and humanitarianism, and by integrating the thought with China's traditional culture which values harmony among nations. Maintaining a global vision is the major historical experience gained from the Party' century-long endeavor, and striving for human progress and world harmony is the Party's founding purpose. China's foreign aid is an endeavor towards building a community with a shared future for mankind. It also embodies the abiding goals of the Communist Party of China to advance the cause of human progress.
Furthermore, we aim to consolidate and deepen friendly cooperation with the rest of the developing world, and expand our circle of friends in pursuit of common prosperity and development. In 1950, shortly after its founding, New China overcame numerous difficulties to support the national independence movements of other countries. Over the past 70 years, the Chinese nation has emerged from poverty and weakness to prosperity and development. The Chinese people not only strive for their own well-being but also for the well-being of other peoples. We seek to contribute to the accelerated development of other developing countries within our capability. Against a fluid international landscape, it is of greater urgency and importance for China to conduct foreign aid, spearhead South-South cooperation and build consensus on development.
Thirdly, we aim to give back to the international community and fulfill China's responsibilities as a major country. A review of history shows that we have received international support and assistance in the construction of New China and the reform and opening-up. China is not only a developing country but also a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Our aid programs are part of mutual assistance among developing countries. As a major country, what China should do is actively carrying out foreign aid and international development cooperation.
Lastly, we aim to serve high-quality development at home and promote high-level opening-up. Helping recipient countries develop their economies and improve livelihoods facilitates the export of our quality products. Meanwhile it also plays a pivotal role in promoting our technologies and industry standards. Foreign aid programs also boost trade, investment cooperation, and deepen exchanges in all sectors between China and other countries, and create a favorable external environment for our economic and social development.
In terms of the characteristics of China's foreign aid, it is based on South-South cooperation with unique approaches and is well-received by recipient countries. In terms of cooperation principles, we follow the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we adhere to non-interference in internal affairs, no attachment of political conditions and we insist on doing what we can within our capacity. In terms of cooperation channels, we gradually transit from the model of prioritizing government aid and emphasizing bilateral cooperation to the model of involving more diverse assistance-providers while combining bilateral and multilateral channels. In terms of cooperation approach, we apply dual approaches, combining foreign aid with mutually beneficial cooperation, aligning with recipient countries’ development strategies, and working for economic complementarity and common growth. We also emphasize monitoring and assessing the result of foreign aid, strengthen comprehensive project supervision, prevent corruption risks, and enhance project quality. In terms of cooperation types, while leveraging traditional strengths in complete projects, materials and technical assistance, human resource development cooperation, and emergency humanitarian relief, we also pay more attention to "small yet smart" livelihood projects.