Impact Story

Strengthening UK–China connections for knowledge-sharing and learning

Published on 23 August 2021

As the UK Anchor Institution for the China International Development Research Network (CIDRN), IDS has continued activities this year on China’s development engagement, with co-created research outputs, a virtual forum, professional training and seminars.

China has the potential for transformative impact in global development due to its strategic importance, role in the global South and commitment to development. As such, stronger links are needed between researchers in the UK and China to encourage better understanding, knowledge-sharing and collaboration – hence the formation of the CIDRN.

Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and supported by the Ministry for Commerce, China, the CIDRN is a three-year project to open connections and forge new partnerships among British and Chinese research centres, institutes and university departments. These are generating research to inform China and the UK’s international development policy and progress towards the UN Global Goals.

Engaging policy through research

Significant outputs this year included the development of a series of knowledge, evidence and policy recommendations in IDS Policy Briefings, published in partnership with UK and other research institutions. IDS Fellow and Programme lead Jing Gu was also invited to join the advisory panel contributing to the Center for Global Development policy paper, which calls for a renewed strategy with China for effective bilateral development cooperation in the aftermath of Covid-19.

IDS and other UK researchers have contributed to high-level UK–China government discussions throughout the project. Most recently, IDS Director Melissa Leach joined global policymakers, development specialists and business leaders at the virtual UK–China Development Forum held over two days in December 2020.

Earlier in the project, IDS joined a high-level summit in 2019 on the Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing, and coordinated visits by Chinese officials to IDS and other UK institutes. IDS also hosted a visit in 2019 of the Chinese State Taxation Administration and the China International Development Cooperation Agency to build understanding of the UK foreign aid programme legislation and management of aid programmes.

 Enabling mutual learning

Activities facilitated by IDS to stimulate knowledge-sharing and mutual learning included the China Global Development Knowledge Network (CGDN) website launched in January 2021 and a dedicated China and Global Development Seminar Series on critical global challenges, with opportunities for informal dialogue.

Seminar themes debated so far include Chinese perspectives and African perspectives on green energy transition, which generated significant attendance, including from NGOs and government organisations globally but especially those based in the UK, Africa and China.

Further related webinars were planned with partners such as the African Economic Research Consortium, the CIDRN, the Southern Think Tank Network (NeST), and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, focusing on strengthening global solidarity through development cooperation against Covid-19.

In July 2020, IDS ran a ten-day Global Development Policy and Perspective professional development course for young researchers and development professionals from UK and Chinese organisations. This encouraged development cooperation and contributed to developing the skills of future leaders.

A platform for growth

The programme has been further strengthened and supported by the IDS China Centre, part of the IDS International Initiatives. The programme will encourage further collaboration that will contribute to providing the evidence needed to inform Chinese development policy, strengthening the UK’s role as a global actor.

Already, considerable new research has been generated on critical development topics such as aid for trade and bilateral export upgrading; the role of technological innovation in improving governance effectiveness; the internationalisation of Chinese NGOs under the Belt and Road Initiative; China’s role in global agricultural governance; and China’s role in the new aid architecture for international development.


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IDS China Centre

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