Development Corporation’s New Stage to put Emphasis on Community with Shared Future

Tshepo Heqoa’s family was struggling to make ends meet in the face of a growing number of climate-related woes, as drought, floods, pests and extreme temperatures occurred more frequently.

The 29 Year Old lives in Koalabata, a small village in the Berea district of Lesotho in southern Africa, where farmers like him rely on the cultivation of soybeans, sugar beans, maize and wheat for a living.

“Life had been hard. My mother was a sole bread-winner, and she had to pay for the tuition of my college education,” he recalled in an online interview.

Heqoa was introduced to the cultivation of mushrooms in 2014 by his peers. But he found the technology difficult to grasp and had only occasional success.

A trip he made to China in 2018, one of the knowledge-sharing tours organized by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, took him to the China National Engineering Research Center at Juncao Technology in Fujian province.

“I was blown away. I had a lot of ideas of what to do when I got home. I found the technology amazing and a way to improve livelihoods in many aspects of life,” he said.

Inspired by the Chinese technology and with help from Chinese Experts, Heqoa is now expanding his business from growing mushrooms to producing mushroom spawn the substance that, like a seed, causes mushroom growth which gave him revenue of about $1,500 in the past four months, a considerable amount in a country with a per capita GDP of $1,118 in 2019.

Heqoa’s case is an example of China’s ongoing efforts in international development cooperation. He was one of around 200,000 beneficiaries of training sessions and seminars for foreign officials and technical personnel and in-service education programs that the country hosted between 2013 and 2018.

With China on course to attain its goal of building itself into a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year, its international development cooperation is also set to enter a new stage, according to experts.

Stronger emphasis will be given to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, a vision championed by President Xi Jinping in response to global challenges.

“The primary goal of China’s international development cooperation will be to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind,” said Xu Xiuli, dean of China Agricultural University’s College of International Development and Global Agriculture.

She said the process would primarily involve enabling a better response to various challenges worldwide, including working together against ineffective governance and shortcomings in trust, peace and development, as well as improving global governance.

The next stage of China’s international development cooperation is set to contribute more to solving global issues such as health challenges, food security and climate change, she said.

According to a white paper titled “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era”, issued by the State Council Information Office last month, China allocated 270.2 billion yuan ($41.8 billion) for foreign assistance in three categories, grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans between 2013 and 2018.

The country allocated 127.8 billion yuan in grants to help other developing countries build small and medium-sized social welfare projects and to fund projects for cooperation in human resources development, technical cooperation and emergency humanitarian assistance and projects under its South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, the paper said.

Mutual Benefits

China has been providing development cooperation to other developing countries since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. It financed large aid projects in many African countries and elsewhere, such as the TAZARA Railway connecting Tanzania and Zambia.

“China’s approach to foreign assistance gradually coalesced around a set of principles emphasizing recipient countries’ sovereignty and mutual benefit,” said Cheng Cheng, chief economist at the Made in Africa Initiative, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the industrialization of Africa.

Over the past four decades, China has transformed itself from a major recipient of foreign aid into a critical provider of investment and development resources for the Global South, he noted, adding that the Belt & Road Initiative quickly became a leading component of China’s overall Foreign Policy. The Global South is a term for lower-income countries, regardless of geography.

With a set of reforms launched in recent years, including the establishment of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, “China seems to want to integrate into its foreign aid portfolio and the BRI a greater range of socially conscious development projects, in areas such as agriculture, public health and education, he added.

Xu, the Dean, said that even though China is now the world’s second-largest economy, it is still a developing country and the per capita income of its residents still lags far behind those of developed nations, a key factor that determines that its international development cooperation is conducted under the framework of South-South Cooperation.

“In the meantime, China has always given priority to providing the means for independent development while refraining from attaching political strings or pursuing political self-interest during the process,” she said.

Many officials and experts have hailed the issuance of the latest white paper as a new starting point for China’s development cooperation.

“This white paper comes at an opportune moment, as China is embarking on a new stage of its journey as an increasingly important provider of development cooperation,” Beate Trankmann, United Nations Development Programme resident representative in China, said at an online seminar last month.

Barnaby Willitts-King, a senior research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, an independent think tank, wrote that the white paper detailed not only China’s role in COVID-19 response but also disaster relief and recovery, support for refugees, and food security.

With the COVID-19 Pandemic still posing an immense threat worldwide as well as challenges to global public health security, China has made its contribution to a global community of health for all a priority in its future international development cooperation, as set out in the white paper.

Key measures include continuing to offer medical supplies to various nations, engaging in cooperation on medical technologies and working with the World Health Organization to help developing countries, especially in Africa, to fortify their public health defenses and improve the speed of their response and capacity for disease control.

On Wednesday morning, the first shipment of vaccines from China to a nation in sub-Saharan Africa, a planeload of COVID-19 vaccines bound for Senegal departed Beijing Capital International Airport.

Delivering on Pledge

Zhang Jun, the ambassador and the permanent representative of China to the United Nations, wrote in an article last week that Chinese vaccine aid has been provided to 14 developing countries and will soon reach 38 more, as part of broader efforts to deliver on its pledge to make its vaccines a global public good.

The country is also set to deliver 10 million doses of Chinese vaccines to COVAX, a UN facility that aims to ensure all countries have access to a safe, effective vaccine.

With the pandemic also causing a global economic downturn, the white paper said that China “will make eliminating poverty and improving people’s lives its ultimate objective and implement more projects for improving living standards in developing countries … to ensure food security and guarantee basic needs, and prevent secondary disasters in the world economy”.

Author: Xu Wei & Hu Meidong