Developing countries have emerged as impressive forces with profound influence in international development cooperation, and China has become one of the major players in this field.
China began providing material assistance to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Vietnam in 1950. And in 1964, it announced the Eight Principles of Foreign Economic and Technical Assistance, featuring equality, mutual benefit and no conditions.
After the resumption of its legitimate seat in the United Nations in 1971, China established economic and technical cooperation with more developing countries, which helped build major infrastructure projects such as the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. With the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978, China's economic cooperation with other developing countries evolved from simple assistance to various forms of mutually beneficial cooperation.
Series of pragmatic initiatives launched In recent years, China has successively launched a series of pragmatic initiatives by, for example, rolling out 10 major China-Africa cooperation plans, establishing the South-South Cooperation and Development Institute, setting up the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund and the China-United Nations Peace and Development Fund, and initiating the BRICS Economic and Technological Cooperation and Exchange Program, in order to contribute Chinese wisdom to such issues as poverty alleviation, disease prevention and control, climate change mitigation, capacity building and humanitarian assistance.
In the past seven decades, China has provided more than 400 billion yuan ($56.36 billion) of assistance to more than 160 countries and international organizations, trained more than 12 million people from developing countries, and implemented more than 5,000 foreign aid projects.
With the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and BRICS New Development Bank, and especially with the founding of the China International Development Cooperation Agency in April 2018, China's international development cooperation has become more and more institutional and influential. Over 70 years, China's foreign aid has gradually transformed from relatively simple forms of capital and material support to diversified forms of assistance.
Belt and Road Initiative and UN 2030 Agenda Since it was proposed six years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative has transformed from a blueprint to reality, and has been included in a UN document, receiving the endorsement and wide support of the international community. By May this year, 131 countries and 30 international organizations had signed cooperation documents with China on the initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative fits perfectly well with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union's Agenda 2063, and has expanded South-South cooperation. The initiative has also helped many developing countries clear bottlenecks on growth, which could help them better integrate their markets with the global market.
In more than one sense, the initiative's five priority areas-policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial cooperation and people- to-people bond-are linked with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
A widely appreciated development initiative
The First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation two years ago yielded 279 deliverables covering five areas, and all of them have been implemented. In April this year, the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing attracted more than 6,000 delegates from 150 countries and regions, and 92 international organizations,and yielded 283 deliverables covering six areas and contracts worth $64 billion.
The initiative has helped boost economic growth and improved people's lives in the participating countries. Thanks to Belt and Road cooperation, some countries now have their first expressways or modern railways while others have seen an end to their longstanding power shortage.
The success stories show that the initiative has provided good opportunities for all parties involved to jointly address global challenges, promote global growth, and achieve common prosperity through greater connectivity. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has spoken highly of the initiative, saying it is "intrinsically linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals".China-Africa cooperation yielding fruitful results China directs most of its assistance funds to low-income developing countries. Africa is home to the largest number of such countries and has always been the top priority of China's global development assistance. China provides eight types of aid to Africa-complete projects, goods and materials, technical cooperation, human resource development cooperation, medical ass is tance, emer gency humanitarian aid, volunteer programs and debt relief.
For years, Africa has been grappling with security challenges, ranging from wars and conflicts to terrorism, refugees and piracy, which have severely hindered its development. Therefore, while carrying out traditional assistance programs in Africa, China has made peace and security one of the priorities for China-Africa cooperation, as peace and security are prerequisites for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
As such, China has actively participated in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, and launched quite a number of anti-piracy and counter-terrorism programs.
Eight major initiatives for African countries Since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, China has expanded cooperation with African countries and gradually expanded assistance to the region. At the FOCAC summit in Beijing in September 2018 President Xi Jinping proposed "eight major initiatives" for China-Africa cooperation- industrial promotion, facility connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health and hygiene, humanities exchanges, and peace and security.
China will provide $15 billion of free aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, with a focus on supporting impoverished areas in Africa to address such problems as poverty, sanitation, agriculture, environmental pollution and climate change.
At present, 40 African countries and the AU Commission have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, making African countries the largest continental group participating in the initiative. And the benefits for the African countries are evident. For instance, the building of Mombasa-Nairobi Railway has driven Kenya's economic growth by 1.5 percent and created 46,000 jobs for local residents.
Guterres has commended the positive role China has played in promoting Africa's development, saying the UN fully supports and participates in China-Africa cooperation and Africa's development.
South-South cooperation gets a shot in the arm South-South cooperation is the common cause of developing countries and embodies their pursuit of common development. Today, the global economy So far, the fund has been used in more than 30 developing countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America through the UN World Food Programme, the UN Development Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, the UN International Children's Emergency Fund, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. More than 50 projects have been launched in areas such as healthcare, women and children, disaster relief and food aid, which have benefited nearly 20 million people in recipient countries. Through the fund, China, in cooperation with international organizations, has carried out various assistance and cooperation projects to help post-disaster reconstruction and refugee resettlement in other developing countries. Western accusations absurd and baseless However, China's emergence as a major player in international development cooperation has made some Western countries anxious. Such countries have accused China of carrying out geo-applauded by the international community, especially by the developing countries. That the total trade volume between China and other Belt and Road countries has exceeded $6 trillion and direct investment crossed $90 billion testifies to the fact that the initiative since 2013 has brought enormous development opportunities to participating countries. Also, the establishment of economic and trade cooperation zones alone have created more than 200,000 jobs for the participating countries.
BRI helps nations break 'no development' trap These data show that, far from being caught in a "debt trap", the participating countries have got out of the trap of "no development".
North-South cooperation should remain the main channel of international development cooperation. But in recent years, developed countries have shown little interest in Chinese Aid Helps Put African Nations on Track is marked by unbalanced development,expansionism and economic plundering,global development cooperation, due to a and developing countries face the arduous task of advancing their economies and improving people's livelihoods.
China has been a staunch supporter, active participant and important contributor to South-South cooperation. It has a development path and concepts that are of valuable reference to other developing countries, and has been providing more practical technologies, viable cooperation projects, and thus more targeted assistance. And the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, announced by President Xi at the UN Development Summit on Sept 26, 2015, represents an innovative funding approach of China's foreign aid program.
causing environmental destruction, and laying a debt trap in a bid to discredit the Belt and Road Initiative.
That these accusations are groundless can never be overemphasized. The initiative champions the "Silk Road Spirit" of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. It does not have any hidden geopolitical agenda. Countries are free to decide whether or not to participate in the initiative.
As a matter of fact, due to rising protectionism and unilateralism, the openness and inclusiveness enshrined in the Belt and Road Initiative have been lack of political will or capital.
By contrast, despite facing arduous development tasks and capital shortage, China has always kept in mind that the world is becoming increasingly interdependent and that any self-centered moves at the expense of others will be detrimental to a country in the long run.
And China believes that win-win results can be realized if certain Western countries discard their zero-sum mindset and treat China as a partner to jointly unleash the development potential of the world.