Monday, January 11, 2021

From Human Rights to Development: China State Council White Paper; "China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era" (January 2021)



I have been writing about the fundamental shift in the focus of human rights and human rights discourse, from one framed in the discursive tropes of liberal democratic ideology to one framed in an emerging Marxist-Leninist discourse (Backer, Larry Catá, ‘By Dred Things I am Compelled’: China and the Challenge to International Human Rights Law and Policy (January 15, 2020). Penn State Law Research Paper No. 06-2020). The shift is occurring even as those who think themselves the high priests of the cult of traditional internationalist human rights ideology continue to thin themselves completely in control of both ideology and discourse. This reframing of human rights has been underway for a few years as the United States has  withdrawn form active engagement in global human rights discourse, and as liberal democratic states themselves confront unresolved issues of managing civil and political rights  within a political context in which internally bitterly divided factions themselves push for different variations about the meaning and application of these principles.

What is this shift and why is it important? Traditional human rights and human rights discourse takes as its starting point the key premises of the ideology on which liberal democratic social-political-economic orders are organized and through which they understand both themselves.  That human rights discourse is centered on the individual.  It speaks to the relationship between the individual and centers of power that affect the individual as an autonomous being and within collective organization.  Individuals have rights--states and other organs of power have duties and responsibilities.  Most of these are negative (limitations of authority) though increasingly some of these are positive (protect life, including life on the planet).   The principal positive responsibility of organs of power is to preserve to the individual effective spaces for the exercise of civil and political action, including the right to agitate for the transformation or abandonment of specific systems of governance or the authority of people to exercise authority (though even here political systems sometimes reach their limits as the tragic agitation of 6 January 2021 in the United States is now suggesting). Those rights also include protection of opportunity for and the preservation of dignity sufficient to permit individuals to enjoy a certain basic level of economic, social, and cultural rights. The extent of these protections is understood as a function of the popular exercise of civil and political rights.

Marxist-Leninist States, first in a crude way in the 1960s-70s, and now in a much more sophisticated way are driving a quite distinct vision of human rights.  These take as their starting point the key ideological baselines of emerging (Chinese) Marxist-Leninism and the way n which they understand themselves and the world around them.  That discourse is centered on the collective.  Better put, it is centered on a pyramidal systems of rims of collectives all tied by the spokes of obligation to a leadership core.  Individuals have expectations; collective authority has rights, duties,  and responsibilities. The betterment of the welfare of the individual collectively is the primary duty of the state.  The state itself is guided in that duty by the vanguard elements of society, organized as a collective to which all political authority is vested.  The primary right of the individual is to receive the benefits of collective betterment through the development of productive forces in the economic, social and cultural spheres.  The primary human right of society s development; the primary duty of the political leadership is the augmentation of economic, social, and cultural rights.  It is the duty of the individual to ensure that they contribute to this collective effort. And thus the core framework within which human rights can be understood and elaborated are through the principle that the state's primary duty is to ensure the prosperity and stability of the collective (discussed, e.g., in the context of the situation in Hong Kong HERE). Civil and political rights are understood as necessarily constrained by and proceeding from the overall imperative to ensure prosperity and stability. 

This new language of human rights requires, in turn, a new vocabulary.  It requires a vocabulary that shifts the emphasis of discourse (and thus the way that terms are understood and applied as policy and rules and norms) from the language and vocabularies of human rights (of the individual) to that of  development (of society and collective institutions). The language of development fits in quite nicely within a meaning universe grounded in core Marxist-Leninist principles. It is especially appealing to (and here a fortuitous mirroring of language) developing states, for which the elaborate notions of detachable individual rights within robust and fractious political engagement may conflict with the necessity of or desire to increase (or develop) collective  welfare. It has the disadvantage of insulating leadership cores from the instability of popular dissatisfaction but carries with it the conclusion that the value of prosperity (assuming it can be delivered) and stability (assuming it can be maintained) exceed that of accountability and protection against the corruption and self serving temptations to a leadership core (assuming such temptations are indulged).

China, as a vanguard Marxist-Leninist state, has accelerated efforts  from 2012 (and the 18th Communist Party Congress) and especially since 2018, to develop a Marxist-Leninist approach to human rights and to develop a Leninist vocabulary around which to frame its approach through a discourse grounded in the core concepts of prosperity and stability rather than of rights. This is an important project.  Given the way that narratives are constructed and people (including influential collective leadership groups) embrace a way of seeing the word and investing it with meaning they can then naturalize within their subject populations, China must both develop a new vocabulary and new framing for those core matters traditionally monopolized by the discursive tropes of liberal democratic ideologies (the authority of which had been virtually undisputed since the fall of the Soviet Union and its dependencies in the late 1980s). They understand that it is impossible to acquire influence over meaning making unless one can exercise some control over the ideological perspectives from out of which objects, thoughts, and actions can be invested with meaning. 

To that end, the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China released in January 2021 a White Paper:  China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era. Prosperity and stability features tellingly  in this White Paper (e.g., "Agriculture is the foundation of economic growth and social stability" ibid., Chp IV.2; "Confronted by acute global challenges, no country can achieve lasting stability and development without solidarity, cooperation, and a partnership featuring peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation, equality, openness, inclusiveness and shared growth" (ibid., conclusion). The term "economic and social development" appears as well. and "economic and social order" also appears (e.g., " We will increase the supply of global public goods, channel more resources to developing countries to support their sustainable economic and social development, and do more to help them remove development blockages").  Rights are mentioned in connection with women's rights and interests (ibid., p. 26). The document is rich with a vocabulary of building a world of collective development, one in which individual welfare is the measure against which the state's task of building prosperity and stability is assessed. A key framework for the elaboration of this Marxist-Leninist development internationalism is its alignment with the core principles and operating patterns of China's Belt and Road Initiative. One speaks here of programs built on policy coordination, and trade integration as well as integrated connectivity through infrastructure projects that build the spokes of a  system of mutual inter-connection, improving trade capacity, deepening financial integration, and fostering closer ties among the populations of participating states. Here is the crux o the human rights project: "China has launched a series of people-oriented projects in Belt and Road countries to address such issues as housing, water supply, health care, education, rural roads, and assistance to vulnerable groups, helping to fill gaps in infrastructure and basic public services" (Ibid., p. 21).

The reface and Chapters I (International Development Cooperation in the New Era and a Global Community of Shared Future), and III (Boosting International Cooperation on the Belt and Road) follow below.  All chapters are worth reading.  Together they suggest the emerging vocabulary and discursive tropes of a human rights regime deeply embedded within development models and grounded in the animating principle of prosperity and stability rather than the protection of individual autonomy and rights as the basis for the protection of the rights of people and groups.  Leninist vocabularies, along with Leninist sensibilities have now returned to the discourse of human rights. But it is important, as well, to begin to understand the gaps between this new approach and the traditional orthodox approach--it is even more important to begin to develop bridges between them to ensure what Chinese authorities call the "win-win" approach to international relations.


China’s InternationalDevelopment Cooperation in the New Era



The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China

January 2021







































     I.  International Development Cooperation in the New Era and a Global Community of Shared Future          

    II.  Achieving New Progress in International Development Cooperation   

   III.  Boosting International Cooperation on the Belt and Road                  

  IV.  Contributing to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

    V.  Responding to Global Humanitarian Challenges Together                 

  VI.  Supporting the Endogenous Growth of Developing Countries          

VII.  Strengthening International Exchanges and Tripartite Cooperation  

VIII. Future Prospects for China’s International Development Cooperation  










China is the largest developing country in the world.

Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has always demonstrated a spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism following and supporting other developing countries’ efforts to improve their people’s lives and achieve development. From the outset, even though China was itself short of funds, it started offering assistance to needy countries in support of their fight for national independence and liberation, and their effort to promote economic and social development, which laid a solid foundation for long-term friendship and cooperation with those countries. After launching reform and opening up in 1978, China has provided other developing economies with even more aid in more diverse forms to boost common development.

China entered a new era after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012. President Xi Jinping has considered China’s responsibilities from a global perspective, and proposed the vision of a global community of shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative. China is committed to pursuing the greater good and shared interests, and upholding the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith for developing relations with other developing countries and the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness for expanding relations with neighboring countries. To this end, President Xi has taken advantage of many major international occasions to announce a broad range of cooperation measures. These present China’s approach, offer its vision, and contribute its strength to resolving global development issues and implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In response to the call of the times, China has been upgrading its foreign assistance to a model of international development cooperation, taking on new initiatives and achieving greater results in this new era.

The Chinese government is publishing this white paper to introduce China’s views on international development cooperation[1] in the new era, the actions it has taken, and its plans for the future.



I. International Development Cooperation in the New Era and a Global Community of Shared Future

The unprecedented level of interconnection and interdependence among countries binds them into a global community of shared future. Guided by this vision, China’s international development cooperation in the new era has a more profound philosophical basis and clearer goals, which lead to more concrete actions.

1. Cultural and Philosophical Origins

China has a cultural foundation and national character that attach great importance to good faith, friendship, justice and righteousness. This is an inherent force driving China’s development cooperation, which is based on the following notions:

– The Chinese nation’s ideal of universal harmony. China pursues an ideal world where the Great Way rules for the common good, respects the principles of good neighborliness and harmony in relations with all other countries, and advocates cooperation and mutual help. Deep rooted in Chinese culture, these are the firm beliefs that inspire China’s development cooperation. Upholding the belief that all countries are members of a global village with shared future, China advocates fairer and more equitable international relations, and steadfastly contributes to global development.

– The Chinese idea of repaying kindness with kindness. The Chinese people will always remember the support and help that China has received from other countries and international organizations. Chinese culture admires those who return the favor of a drop of water in need with a spring of water indeed. China is willing to share its successful experience without reservation to boost development in other places and benefit more countries and peoples.

– The Chinese tradition of internationalism. The Chinese people always preserve a sense of justice and a feeling of sympathy. In 1950, just one year after the founding of the People’s Republic, China did its utmost to support other countries in their campaigns for national independence in spite of its own difficulties. Over the past seven decades, the Chinese nation has forged ahead, moving from poverty and backwardness towards strength and prosperity. The Chinese people hope that other peoples will also lead a good life while theirs is improving, and are willing to contribute as much as they can to other developing countries’ efforts to satisfy their people’s aspiration for a better life.

– China’s sense of responsibility as a major country. China is a founding member of the United Nations and also a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It upholds the universal values of humanity – peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom – and sticks to a development path that is peaceful, open, cooperative and inclusive. China considers it a duty to actively engage in development cooperation as a responsible member of the international community. China considers it a mission to contribute more to humanity. Its wish is to offer more public goods to the international community and join forces with other countries to build a better common future.

2. China’s Approaches to Development Cooperation

Based on its experience in international development cooperation since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has formed distinctive approaches in keeping with the new era while maintaining its fine traditions, as elaborated below.

– Promoting a global community of shared future is the mission of China’s international development cooperation. Humanity shares a common stake in development, and world stability and prosperity cannot be achieved unless developing countries can progress. By helping other developing countries reduce poverty and improve their people’s lives, China works together with them to narrow the North-South gap, eliminate the deficit in development, establish a new model of international relations based on mutual respect, equity, justice and win-win cooperation, and build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

– Pursuing the greater good and shared interests, with higher priority given to the former, is the underlying guideline. This represents one of China’s cultural traditions and embodies its belief in internationalism. Under this guideline, China strives to make the cake of prosperity bigger, and hopes developing countries will advance faster to share the opportunities and benefits offered by open development. Observing the principle of mutual benefit for win-win outcomes, it offers as much assistance as it can while taking into consideration of the interests and needs of other developing countries.

– South-South cooperation is the focus. In spite of China’s tremendous achievements, two realities have not changed: China is in the primary stage of socialism and will remain so for a long time to come, and China is still the world’s largest developing economy. China’s development cooperation is a form of mutual assistance between developing countries. It falls into the category of South-South cooperation and therefore is essentially different from North-South cooperation. China is a staunch supporter, active participant and key contributor of South-South cooperation. It will continue to shoulder the international responsibilities commensurate with its development level and capacity, and further expand South-South cooperation, so as to promote joint efforts for common development.

– Belt and Road cooperation is a major platform. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road are significant public goods China offers to the whole world and a major platform for international development cooperation. China has joined hands with other countries to promote policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, to build the Belt and Road into a path towards peace, prosperity, opening up, innovation, green development, cultural exchanges, and clean government.

– Helping other developing countries to pursue the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a key goal. The 2030 Agenda is a guiding blueprint for development cooperation around the world and has a lot in common with the Belt and Road Initiative. The international community has made initial progress in achieving the agenda’s goals in recent years, but global development remains unbalanced and inadequate. The Covid-19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to the 2030 Agenda, making it a tough task to achieve its goals in all countries and for all people as scheduled. Through international cooperation on improving development capacity and optimizing development partnerships, China has helped other developing countries mitigate the impact of the pandemic, so as to accelerate action for the 2030 Agenda and achieve common prosperity.

3. China’s Principles for Development Cooperation

China’s principles for international development cooperation are as follows:

– Respecting each other as equals. China always supports development cooperation on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It holds that all countries, regardless of size, strength and wealth, are equal members of the international community. When cooperating with other countries for development, no country should interfere in their efforts to find a development path suited to their own national conditions, interfere in their internal affairs, impose its own will on them, attach political strings, or pursue political self-interest.

– Doing the best we can to help. Taking both the domestic and international situation into consideration, China gives full play to its comparative strengths, and perform international duties compatible with its national strength. Within the framework of South-South cooperation, it provides as much assistance to other developing countries as it can. China respects other developing countries’ opinions, and determines cooperation projects through friendly consultation and mutual agreement. It does not launch projects in conflict with its partners’ development level and needs. China is always true in word and resolute in deed. It honors its commitments and ensures all projects achieve good results.

– Focusing on development and improving people’s lives. Development is the top priority of all countries. When carrying out development cooperation, China emphasizes coordination of plans and strategies with partner countries, and responds to the priority needs of developing countries for social and economic progress. Aiming to improve people’s wellbeing and provide them with tangible gains, it increases investment in poverty alleviation, disaster relief, education, health care, agriculture, employment, environmental protection, and climate change response, and actively participates in emergency humanitarian relief operations.

– Providing the means for independent development. Fully considering the resources, development level and needs of other developing countries, China shares unreservedly its experience and technologies with them by various means, and trains local talent and technicians for them, so as to empower them to tap their own potential for diversified, independent and sustainable development.

– Conducting effective cooperation in diverse forms. China has developed distinctive forms of foreign assistance throughout its long-term experience, including:

• complete projects,

• goods and materials,

• technical cooperation,

• cooperation in human resources development,

• South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF),

• medical teams,

• outbound volunteers,

• emergency humanitarian aid, and

• debt relief.

In accordance with its partners’ actual needs and conditions, China chooses the optimal forms of cooperation to maximize the results. It champions the efficient use of funds to their best value.

– Ensuring delivery and sustainability. China prioritizes implementation management, supervision and evaluation to ensure the quality of projects. In order to maintain the reputation and credibility of China-aid projects and increase their overall efficiency, China pays close attention to the operation of completed projects, provides follow-up technical support, and boosts the integration of investment, construction and operation. To ensure lasting impact, it promotes vocational training and technical cooperation, and helps countries to improve the skills of their project management personnel and localize project management. China seeks solutions through bilateral consultations with countries in difficulty for repayment of debts, and helps low-income countries to achieve debt sustainability.

– Being open and inclusive to promote exchanges and mutual learning. China furthers its international communication on development cooperation to dispel doubts, increase mutual trust, and seek mutual learning. It respects the wishes of countries in receipt of aid, and discusses and launches cooperation with other countries and international organizations based on the principle that projects should be proposed, agreed and led by recipient countries. In a spirit of openness, China explains through various channels its policies, funding and management for development cooperation to the rest of the world.

– Advancing with the times and breaking new ground. Following the trends of the times and the changes in the domestic and international situation, China introduces reforms and innovations to its development cooperation while remaining true to its own principles. Absorbing the experience of other countries and international organizations in this field, and based on the development goals and needs of developing countries, China makes institutional reforms, improves regulations, diversifies forms, and expands areas of interest to increase the quality and effectiveness of cooperation.

4. Practical Measures for Development Cooperation

Respecting its solemn commitments, China has taken practical actions in development cooperation. President Xi Jinping has announced measures for development cooperation on many international occasions, which will contribute to global development.

– Fulfilling its duties as a major country and providing global development with public goods.

During the summits commemorating the UN’s 70th anniversary in September 2015, President Xi announced the following commitments for the next five years:

• supporting “six 100 projects” – 100 poverty reduction projects, 100 agricultural cooperation projects, 100 aid for trade projects, 100 ecological conservation and climate change response projects, 100 hospitals and clinics, and 100 schools and vocational training centers;

• helping implement 100 maternal and child health care projects and 100 “happy campus” projects;

• setting up an assistance fund for South-South cooperation and a China-UN peace and development fund;

• launching training and scholarship programs for people from other developing countries to study in China;

• writing off debts on eligible countries’ interest-free loans; and

• establishing an institute of South-South cooperation and development and a center for international knowledge on development.

At the opening of the virtual 73rd World Health Assembly on May 18, 2020, President Xi announced measures for supporting international cooperation against Covid-19, including:

• providing an assistance fund of US$2 billion over two years;

• working with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot and hub in China;

• establishing a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals;

• making Covid-19 vaccines available as a global public good once they have been developed and applied in China; and

• working with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries.

– Increasing aid to other developing countries within the Belt and Road framework.

At the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017, President Xi announced that China would:

• provide assistance worth RMB60 billion to launch more projects to improve people’s wellbeing in the following three years;

• provide emergency food aid worth RMB2 billion;

• make an additional contribution of US$1 billion to the SSCAF;

• launch 100 “happy home” projects, 100 poverty alleviation projects, and 100 health care and rehabilitation projects; and

• provide relevant international organizations with US$1 billion.

At the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019, President Xi announced that China would:

• implement the Belt and Road South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change;

• expand cooperation in agriculture, health, disaster mitigation and water resources;

• invite 10,000 representatives to visit China;

• encourage and support extensive cooperation on public wellbeing projects among social organizations of participating countries; and

• continue to run the Chinese government scholarship Silk Road Program.

– Proposing cooperation schemes with developing countries through regional cooperation mechanisms.

President Xi Jinping has proposed many aid plans to boost economic and social development and people’s wellbeing in recipient countries at bilateral and multilateral conferences such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, and the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum.

At the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in December 2015, President Xi put forward ten major cooperation programs with Africa for the following three years, covering industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction, public health, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.

At the FOCAC Beijing Summit held in September 2018, President Xi stated that China would launch eight major initiatives in the next three years and beyond, covering industrial development, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.

At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19 in June 2020, President Xi said that China would continue to do everything possible to support Africa’s response to Covid-19, work with Africa to accelerate the follow-ups to the FOCAC Beijing Summit, give greater priority to cooperation on public health, business reopening, and people’s wellbeing, and build an even stronger China-Africa community of shared future.

The Chinese government is actively fulfilling its commitments to development cooperation. All the measures listed above have been completed or are progressing as scheduled, turning into solid contributions to global development.

[1] In this book, “international development cooperation” refers to China’s bilateral and multilateral efforts, within the framework of South-South cooperation, to promote economic and social development through foreign aid, humanitarian assistance, and other means.

* * * 

III. Boosting International Cooperation on the Belt and Road

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed, China has carried out development cooperation and contributed to policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity based on the needs of individual countries, creating space and opportunities to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

1. Enhancing Policy Coordination

Policy coordination is the foundation for Belt and Road participants to strengthen political mutual trust, develop pragmatic cooperation and integrate their interests. Based on the principle of seeking and expanding common ground while reserving and resolving differences, China has invited foreign officials to participate in training sessions, and dispatched experts and advisors to participating countries, to promote bilateral communication and understanding and create synergy for common development.

– Building platforms for the Belt and Road Initiative to dovetail with the development strategies of participating countries. China has held over 4,000 training sessions for officials from participating countries on Belt and Road topics such as infrastructure connectivity, industrial capacity, equipment standardization, trade facilitation, and technological standardization.

The training programs serve as a communication platform for coordinating policies among countries within the Belt and Road framework. Participants of the programs discussed and planned jointly on ways to link the Belt and Road Initiative with regional and national initiatives, such as Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, EU’s Europe-Asia connectivity strategy, Pakistan’s vision of a new Pakistan, Laos’ initiative to transform from a land-locked country to a land-linked country, the Philippines’ massive infrastructure projects under its Build, Build, Build program, Kazakhstan’s Bright Road initiative, and Mongolia’s Development Road program.

– Creating opportunities for regional economic and trade integration. China has sent experts and advisors abroad to offer technical consulting services, and propose feasible plans for development based on an in-depth understanding of the national conditions, policies and laws of each partner country, laying the groundwork for effective cooperation.

The China-Belarus Great Stone Industrial Park, an overseas economic and trade cooperation zone, has been hailed as “a pearl on the Silk Road Economic Belt”. China implemented technical support programs for the industrial park, shared its experience in managing development zones, and invited experts from Belarus to visit the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area and the Suzhou Industrial Park. Through field trips and in-depth communication, the experts of the two countries jointly formulated policies on the management, operation, investment promotion, and industrial development for the park, laying solid foundations for its long-term development.

2. Strengthening Infrastructure Connectivity

Infrastructure connectivity is key to Belt and Road cooperation. China provides full support to participating countries in building trunk lines including highways, railways, ports, bridges and telecommunications cable networks, in order to build a connectivity framework consisting of six corridors, six routes, and multiple countries and ports.

– Connecting the six corridors and six routes. China supports Belt and Road participants in infrastructure connectivity projects to revive the ancient Silk Road. To support the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and promote overland trade between the two countries, China participated in the upgrading and expansion of the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway and the Karakoram Highway. To support the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, China is helping to build infrastructure such as highways, bridges and tunnels in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, promoting connectivity and integrated development between Southeast Asia and South Asia.

China’s help with the construction of sections of Kyrgyzstan’s North-South highway and Tajikistan’s road renovation project on the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor has improved the local transport conditions. Connecting over 100 cities across more than 20 countries in Europe and Asia, the China Railway Express to Europe has made an outstanding contribution to stabilizing international industrial and supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic.

– Building logistics corridor on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China supports the construction of a smooth and efficient transport corridor on the Maritime Silk Road with the key ports as major links. With China’s assistance, the Friendship Port expansion project in Mauritania has significantly improved the handling capacity and alleviated cargo congestion and delays in the port, making it an important trade logistics node along the Maritime Silk Road.

– Building air transport hubs. To meet the increasing needs of air transport, China has assisted Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Cambodia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Togo in upgrading and expanding their airports, thereby improving operational capacity and safety, increasing the passenger and cargo throughput, promoting local tourism, facilitating cross-border passenger and trade flow, and bringing more opportunities for their integration with the Belt and Road Initiative.

3. Promoting Unimpeded Trade

Trade is an important engine for economic growth. China has aided countries to improve their trade infrastructure and capacity, laying a solid foundation for Belt and Road participants to achieve unimpeded trade.

– Facilitating trade. To enhance the competitiveness of developing countries in the global supply chain, China has taken proactive measures to help Belt and Road partners improve their trade infrastructure and modernize their trading systems.

To speed up the customs clearance process for goods and combat smuggling, China has donated container inspection equipment to more than 20 countries including Georgia, Armenia, Tanzania, Kenya and the Philippines. China has also assisted Bangladesh’s purchase of shipping vessels, delivering three oil tankers and three bulk carriers to the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation and thus helping to increase its overall transport capacity.

– Improving trade capacity. China is helping Laos to build its rural e-commerce policies, plans and systems, and helping Myanmar and Cambodia to build their systems for the inspection of agricultural products, inspection and quarantine of animals and plants, and grain storage, to enhance their export competitiveness.

From 2013 to 2018, to coordinate trade policies of different countries and build a free trade network, China held over 300 trade-related training sessions for participating countries on trade facilitation, international logistics, multimodal transport, e-commerce, border health and quarantine, border inspection and quarantine of animals and plants, and safety of imported and exported food. It has set up funds in the World Trade Organization and the World Customs Organization for building trade capacity and helping developing economies and particularly the least developed countries to integrate into the multilateral trading system.

4. Deepening Financial Integration

China actively helps participating countries to improve their financial systems and build cooperation platforms for financing, paving the way for financial integration.

– Supporting the improvement of financial systems. China assists Belt and Road participants in optimizing their financial environment, a prerequisite for their integration into the international financial system.

In 2015, China helped Laos to build its national bankcard payment system, a constructive step in maintaining the financial stability of Laos and promoting financial connectivity with neighboring countries. The China-IMF Capacity Development Center has provided intellectual support to Belt and Road participants to improve their macro-economic and financial frameworks. China set up the Research Center for Belt and Road Financial and Economic Development, which serves as an important think tank for enhancing capacity building in financial integration.

– Building multilateral cooperation platforms for financing. The Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF) was jointly established by China, the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Development Bank of Latin America, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The MCDF aims to promote connectivity among international financial institutions and relevant partners, and attract more investment in the Belt and Road through sharing information, supporting project preparation and building capacity.

5. Fostering Closer People-to-People Ties

People-to-people friendship is the cornerstone of sound state-to-state relations, and heart-to-heart communication holds the key to deeper friendship. China promotes people-to-people exchanges and cultural cooperation with partner countries through projects designed to improve the lives of local people, thus increasing mutual appreciation, mutual understanding and mutual respect, and reinforcing the social foundation of the Belt and Road Initiative.

– Improving people’s lives. China has launched a series of people-oriented projects in Belt and Road countries to address such issues as housing, water supply, health care, education, rural roads, and assistance to vulnerable groups, helping to fill gaps in infrastructure and basic public services.

China has assisted Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Djibouti in building water supply systems to ensure access to safe drinking water. It has aided Sri Lanka, Senegal, Guinea, Niger, Mozambique, South Sudan, Jamaica, Suriname, Dominica and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in building hospitals to improve local medical services and make it easier for local people to access medical treatment.

China has helped Belarus build government-subsidized housing to improve the living conditions of the vulnerable. From 2016 to 2019, it provided over 2,000 free cataract surgeries in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

– Furthering people-to-people exchanges. China has invited representatives from Belt and Road countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Kazakhstan to engage in people-to-people exchanges in China, increasing their knowledge and understanding of China’s national conditions and culture. It has also sent youth volunteers to other Belt and Road countries such as Laos and Brunei to foster closer people-to-people ties and facilitate cultural exchanges and mutual learning.

– Strengthening cultural cooperation. China has participated in 33 projects for the joint preservation of cultural relics with 17 Belt and Road countries. These include the protection and restoration projects for Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan Buddhist pagodas in Myanmar damaged in earthquakes, and the ancient city of Khiva in Uzbekistan, as well as joint archaeological activities at Rakhat Ancient Ruins in Kazakhstan and the Bikrampur ruins in Bangladesh.

China has launched a project known as Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages aimed at providing digital TV connection for rural communities in more than 20 African countries, opening a new window for them to see the world. It has provided assistance to projects for radio and TV centers in Seychelles, the Comoros, Tanzania and Mauritius to improve the transmission capacity of local radio and television networks, making them important vehicles for cultural communication in their respective localities.



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