Historically, China has forged its own distinctive foreign aid practices. Beijing combines aid with commercial-oriented activities and strives to respond flexibly to varied economic and developmental needs in diverse sociopolitical contexts, based on China’s own experience as a developing country. As its foreign aid programs have matured, Beijing has modified its practices and sometimes has solicited advice from members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. China’s approach to aid has become a highly salient topic as the country’s stature as a provider of economic assistance has grown.

Tang Xiaoyang
Tang Xiaoyang was a resident scholar and the deputy director at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center until June 2020.
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Yet China’s development aid system was long highly decentralized, with various ministries handling different aspects of this portfolio. In March 2018, Beijing established the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) to integrate and streamline its development aid programs. The CIDCA has assumed many foreign aid coordination duties from other state organs, although the agency is still finding its footing, and some details remain unclear.

To foster greater understanding of the CIDCA’s significance, this series of four articles outlines the agency’s position and function within China’s foreign aid bureaucracy at present and in the years ahead.

This series resulted from a workshop on Chinese international development aid hosted by the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. The center is grateful to The Rockefeller Foundation for the support that made this series possible.