Inclusiveness will drive new agency to success
Among the host of moves in the new round of institutional reform finalized at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress, the decision to establish an international development cooperation agency demands global attention. The move does not necessarily mean China has just begun disbursing foreign aid.
The fact is, China gave aid to countries in need, including African countries, even when its economy was not booming, in order to help improve their infrastructure and medical facilities.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang again made it clear that China does not seek political gains by granting aid to other countries, and emphasized that China doesn't give aid with preconditions.
Now, after four decades of reform and opening-up and a thriving economy, China has gained enough economic clout, and accumulated a rich pool of experiences and lessons on every development front to fulfill its international responsibilities on a larger scale. But since China's foreign aid has been mainly disbursed by ministries of foreign affairs and commerce, it needed an agency which could better shoulder this responsibility, and that is exactly what the new agency could do.
Since 2012, when General Secretary Xi Jinping assumed the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the country has been implementing proactive major-country diplomacy to meet the requirements of the new era, as the new form of diplomacy aims to work with other countries to foster a new type of international relations, which in turn will help build a global community of shared future.
Against this backdrop, China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, whose aim is to achieve common prosperity and peace through better infrastructure connectivity in a world where protectionism, anti-globalization and isolationism seem to be gaining ground.
This historic and current background makes it necessary for China to establish an international development cooperation agency to better help those countries and regions in need.
Over the past four decades when its economy expanded manyfold, China has greatly benefited from foreign aid in the form of funds, technologies, know-how and human resources.
China performed economic miracles in the previous decades partly because of its passionate desire to learn from foreign countries and put foreign aid to maximum use.
Now, China is ready to share the experiences of its success with those countries which are still struggling on the economic and social fronts. But while sharing its experiences with and granting aid to other countries, China has followed the principle of not attaching any political conditions to its benign and friendly moves. This is in stark contrast to the developed countries' practice of imposing strict conditions when giving developing countries loans or aid.
For sure, China's new international development cooperation agency will adhere to the rules followed by the ministries of commerce and foreign affairs. But the new agency must also be sober-minded enough to learn from similar global agencies, especially those run by the developed countries, to improve its governance structure and prioritize its goals.
The new agency should also know that the smooth delivery of aid and implementation of projects depend on deeper cooperation with governments, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, financial and academic institutions, and think tanks.
In other words, this means the new agency must be inclusive and open enough to explore cooperation, especially with other players from China and the aid-receiving countries.
The author is deputy chief of China Daily European Bureau.