Op-Ed Contributors

White paper: China's foreign aid

(China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-22 08:02
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Chinese Medical Teams Working Abroad

China sends medical teams to recipient countries and provide free medical devices and medicines. These medical teams then provide location-based or touring medical services in those countries.

In 1963, China dispatched the first medical team to Algeria. So far, China has sent medical teams to 69 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania. These teams usually work in underdeveloped areas where conditions are harsh and people lack medical services and medicines. These teams have cured many patients with common and frequently occurring diseases, and treated some complicated and serious diseases with acupuncture and moxibustion, medical massage and integrated use of traditional Chinese and Western medicine, saving many critically ill patients. They have also passed on their skills to local medical staff, helping improve local medical and health services. With sound medical skills, lofty medical ethics and a high sense of responsibility and mission, they have worked hard to serve the people of the recipient countries, and thus won respect and praise from the governments and peoples of these countries. By the end of 2009, China had altogether sent over 21,000 medical workers to other countries, and they have treated 260 million patients in the recipient countries. In 2009, 60 Chinese medical teams composed of 1,324 members provided medical services at 130 medical institutions in 57 developing countries.

Emergency Humanitarian Aid

Emergency humanitarian aid is provided when a country or region suffers a severe natural or humanitarian disaster. In such cases, China provides materials or cash for emergency relief or dispatches relief personnel of its own accord or at the victim country's request, so as to reduce losses of life and property in disaster-stricken areas and help the victim country tackle difficulties caused by the disaster.

Over the years, China has taken an active part in emergency relief operations in foreign countries, and has been playing a more and more important role in international emergency humanitarian relief. To make relief actions quicker and more effective, the Chinese government formally established a response mechanism for emergency humanitarian relief and aid in foreign countries in September 2004. In December 2004, when a tsunami hit countries bordering the Indian Ocean, China launched the largest ever emergency relief operation in its history, providing 700 million yuan worth of aid to the disaster-stricken countries. In the past five years, the Chinese government has provided on nearly 200 occasions emergency aid to foreign countries, including offering emergency technical aid to Southeast Asian countries for the prevention and treatment of bird flu; providing emergency aid in materials and cash to Guinea-Bissau hit by a locust plague and cholera, to Ecuador to fight dengue fever and to Mexico to fight A (H1N1) influenza. It also assisted Iran, Pakistan, Haiti and Chile following severe earthquakes, Madagascar after a hurricane, Myanmar and Cuba following tropical storms, and Pakistan following a flood. In addition, it sent emergency food aid to the DPRK, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Burundi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other countries.

Overseas Volunteer Programs

China selects volunteers and sends them to other developing countries to serve the local people in education, medical and health care and some other social sectors. The volunteers now China sends mainly include young volunteers and Chinese-language teachers.

In May 2002, China dispatched, for the first time, five volunteers to Laos to provide services in education and medical and health care for half a year. By the end of 2009, China had dispatched to 19 developing countries, including Thailand, Ethiopia, Laos, Myanmar, Seychelles, Liberia and Guyana, 405 young volunteers who provide services in the fields of Chinese-language teaching, traditional Chinese medicine treatment, agricultural technology, sports and physical training, computer skills, international relief and so on. China has sent regular teams of volunteers to Ethiopia, Guyana and a few other countries. In 2003, China started to dispatch volunteer Chinese-language teachers to other countries. By the end of 2009, China had dispatched 7,590 Chinese-language teachers to over 70 countries around the world.

Debt Relief

Debt relief means that China cancels the mature governmental debts of some developing countries that they owe China. China never urges indebted countries to pay back governmental debts. When recipient countries encounter difficulties in repaying due interest-free loans, the Chinese government usually adopts flexible ways and extends the period of repayment through bilateral discussions. To reduce the debt burden on financially troubled countries, China has, on six occasions, declared that it would cancel debts incurred by mature interest-free loans owed to China by those heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries which have diplomatic ties with China. Those occasions were the FOCAC First Ministerial Conference in 2000, UN High-Level Meeting on Financing for Development in 2005, Beijing Summit of the FOCAC in 2006, UN High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in 2008, the FOCAC Fourth Ministerial Conference in 2009 and UN High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in 2010. By the end of 2009, China had signed debt relief protocols with 50 countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania, canceling 380 mature debts totaling 25.58 billion yuan.

IV. Distribution of Foreign Aid

The recipients of China' s foreign aid are mainly low-income developing countries. Regarding the distribution of its foreign aid, China sets great store by people's living conditions and economic development of recipient countries, making great efforts to ensure its aid benefits as many needy people as possible. Geographical Distribution

The geographical distribution of China' s foreign aid shows a comparatively even coverage. The recipients cover most developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Oceania and Eastern Europe. About two-thirds of China's aid always go to the least developed countries and other low-income countries. By the end of 2009, China had aided 161 countries and more than 30 international and regional organizations, including 123 developing countries that receive aid from China regularly. Of them, 30 are in Asia, 51 in Africa, 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 12 in Oceania and 12 in Eastern Europe. Asia and Africa, home to the largest poor population, have got about 80 percent of China' s foreign aid.

Major Fields

China' s foreign aid projects are oriented to agriculture, industry, economic infrastructure, public facilities, education, and medical and health care, with the focus on improving recipient countries' industrial and agricultural productivity, laying a solid foundation for their economic and social development, and improving basic education and health care. In recent years, coping with climate change has become a new area in China's foreign aid.


China makes agriculture, rural development and poverty reduction in developing countries priorities of its foreign aid. The agricultural aid mainly covers building farms, agro-technology demonstration centers, and experiment and promotion stations of agro-technology; constructing farmland irrigation and water-conservancy projects; supplying agricultural machinery and implements, farm produce processing equipment and related agricultural materials; dispatching agro-technicians and senior agricultural experts to pass on agricultural production technologies and provide consultations on rural development, and training agricultural personnel for recipient countries. Agricultural projects aided by China have promoted agricultural development in recipient countries, increased their output of grain and cash crops, and provided raw materials for the development of their light industry. In Guinea-Bissau, Chinese agricultural experts helped build 11 demonstration areas for paddy rice, with a total growing area of 2,000 hectares. They bred 530 tons of fine strains of rice, which were planted in areas totaling 3,530 hectares. Several of the rice strains produced an output three times or more than the original output. In 2008, the Chinese agricultural experts were awarded first prize for scientific and technological progress by the Agricultural Department of Guinea-Bissau. Chinese experts assisted in the operation of a hybrid rice development and demonstration center in Madagascar, where 34 strains of Chinese hybrid paddy rice were grown, with average per-hectare output of 8 tons, about two to three times the average output of local paddy rice. In the 1960s and 1970s, after succeeding in helping Mali grow sugarcane, China went on to help the country establish sugarcane farm and sugar mills, enabling Mali to grow and process sugar by itself for the first time ever. This sugar-making corporation is playing an important role in Mali's economy. In the 1980s, China helped Tunisia construct the Medzerdah-Cap Bon Canal, which enabled the transfer of water from west to east for farmland irrigation, laying a solid foundation for agricultural development in Tunisia.

China has been increasing its aid for agriculture and grain production in particular. In recent years, food security has become a global issue, and China has adopted a series of measures to address this problem in its foreign aid. For instance, at the UN High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in 2010, China pledged to establish 30 demonstration centers for agricultural technologies in other developing countries, dispatch 3,000 agricultural experts and technicians to these countries, and invite 5,000 agricultural personnel from these countries to China for training.

By the end of 2009, China had aided 221 agricultural projects in other developing countries - 35 farms, 47 agro-technology experiment and promotion stations, 11 animal husbandry projects, 15 fisheries projects, 47 farmland irrigation and water-conservancy projects, and 66 other types of agricultural projects. On top of that, China had provided a large amount of agricultural equipment and materials to them.