‘Chinese solution’ dedicates to narrowing North-South gap

By Lu Yang / 03-25-2021 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

After finishing a one-year task assisting medical services in Ghana, Africa, the medical team returns to Guangdong Provincial Hospital on February 9, 2021. Photo: Zhai Huiyong/CNSphoto

For China, cooperation in international development refers to multi-lateral and bilateral international cooperation actions that China conducts in the fields of economic and social development. These efforts are often conducted through such means as foreign aid, including humanitarian aid, under the framework of South-South cooperation. Over the past 70+ years, China’s foreign aid has had remarkable results, and a unique “Chinese solution” has been formed while China seeks innovation in practicing cooperation. 

As a developing country, China has offered aid to more than 160 countries and international organizations worldwide without any political conditions attached. More than 120 developing countries have frequently received aid from China in recent years. With steadily increasing funds and a wider scope of recipients, the effects of China’s foreign aid are growing considerably. 
The priority of China’s foreign aid is to foster industrial, agricultural development, and infrastructure construction in the aided countries, to promote global medical, educational, and public service development, to tackle humanitarian challenges and to strengthen developing countries’ self-reliance. On one hand, China emphasizes giving economic support by exempting over 30 billion in debt shouldered by more than ten countries, including the least developed countries, heavily indebted countries, and landlocked developing countries. On the other hand, China considers strengthening self-reliance of utmost importance for these countries. In the past more than 70 years, China sponsored 13,000 training programs, on a variety of subjects, for more than 160 countries and international, regional organizations, covering more than 100 topics and about 400,000 individuals. With persistent efforts, China has made active contributions to cooperation in international development, which has won extensive applause from the international community—especially the majority of developing countries. 
Medical and health assistance has always been a crucial part of China’s foreign aid, and has become one of the key sectors for today’s cooperation in international development. Since 1963 when the first overseas medical team was dispatched, China has continued to dispatch long-term medical teams to 72 countries and regions, with 1,069 batches consisting of 27,484 team members, and 0.3 billion patients treated all together by the end of 2019. 
To actively respond to international public health emergencies is also a crucial part of China’s foreign aid. Whether it was the outbreak of the Ebola Virus, Zika Virus, Bubonic plague and COVID-19, China conducted cooperative initiatives with the afflicted countries. The occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, an internationally widespread public health emergency, has revealed the necessity of strengthening global governance on public health and the need to bolster cooperation among countries and international organizations. At the same time, higher attention should be paid to the role that the World Health Organization plays in global health governance. It is also vital to prioritize experience sharing about pandemic prevention and control. 
China supports anti-pandemic efforts in developing countries, and has participated in international vaccine cooperation. It carried out an emergency humanitarian action, and the foreign aid projects involved the most concentrated time span, the widest scope, and the largest scale, contributing to the global cause of public health. 
The founding of the China International Development Cooperation Agency in 2018 is of great symbolic meaning. Conducive to major-country diplomatic means of foreign aid, it better serves the overarching goals of Chinese diplomacy and construction of the “Belt and Road” (B&R) initiative. Due to changes in both international and domestic environments, such as China-US relations, China’s cooperation on international development and B&R construction still faces some challenges. 
As the novel coronavirus continues to rage across the world, global governance in public health faces great threats, and the world economy is poised to fall into recession. China’s cooperation in international development in the new era should commit to bridging the divide between developed countries and developing countries, and try to narrow the realistic gap between the North and South. In the future, China will continue to offer Chinese experience and Chinese solutions to the international community, to allow people from different countries to share the fruits of new development opportunities. 
Lu Yang is an associate professor from the College of International Relations at Huaqiao University.
Edited by BAI LE