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China’s Evolving Approach to Foreign Aid

Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
May, 2022

China’s role in foreign aid and, more broadly, in development cooperation on the global stage has grown significantly since it began seven decades ago. Particularly in recent years, through such platforms as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s profile and engagement in global governance in foreign aid and related areas have been further enhanced. China’s ambition is to take a more proactive approach in foreign aid and move towards a model of international development cooperation by linking with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and by including the BRI as a major platform to achieve key development goals.

This paper provides a timely analysis of the evolution of China’s foreign aid policy in the past seven decades with a particular focus on the developments since 2000. It discusses China’s development finance to Africa and the major sectors receiving Chinese aid. It also analyses recent trends of Chinese foreign aid and identifies some of the challenges that China faces as it becomes a major player in international development financing.


1. Introduction

2. Evolving Chinese perspectives on foreign aid

3. Recent developments and trends

4. Conclusions


Dr Jingdong Yuan is a Senior Researcher and Director of the SIPRI China and Asia Security Programme.
Fei Su is a Researcher in the SIPRI China and Asia Security Programme.
Xuwan Ouyang was an intern with the SIPRI China and Asia security programme.