China’s Development Diplomacy

Saferworld’s Thomas Wheeler examines China’s impact on the international aid system and recipient countries, and suggests that a chance exists for greater aid co-operation between China and the West. From The Diplomat:

… [A]lthough different values and principles exist, a shared interest in stability represents a concrete foundation for co-operation. As Beijing’s approach towards conflict-affected countries evolves to protect deepening interests, there’s an unprecedented opportunity for China and the West to develop more complementary approaches in support of peace. This could, for example, focus on jointly developing policies and principles to make development assistance more conflict-sensitive. The current situation isn’t encouraging. In the contexts where Saferworld conducted research, there was little or no regular dialogue, let alone co-ordination or co-operation, between Chinese and Western representatives. As one Western official admitted, “It’s like we operate in parallel universes: they do what they do, we do what we do ….”

For its part, China wants its rise to be perceived as peaceful. Its image as a global power will be greatly determined by its role in parts of the world that are troubled by conflict. Beijing needs to recognize the consequences of its engagement in countries where peace is fragile and act accordingly. This may mean re-assessing how to interpret non-interference, deliver development finance, and ensure Chinese weapons do not end up fuelling further human suffering. As Chinese policymakers grapple with how to square new-found influence, greater responsibility and deepening interests, they may well find that the solution ultimately lies in working with others.


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