China and International Development Cooperation

China is now the African continent’s biggest trading partner. It is also involved in a wide range of development cooperation projects across the continent in fields ranging from health and social policy to agriculture. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of China in the field of international development cooperation.

Chinese and African workers on the construction site of a station and railway which is part of a devlopment aid project by China in Angola in exchange for petroleum. Credit: D. Telemans / Panos

As a key member of the BRICS and with recent experiences in rapid economic growth, China plays an increasingly important role – both as a development cooperation partner and as a source of development experiences – to many low-income countries.

China has achieved remarkable success with its own development. But rather than join the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) regime of traditional donors, it has instead chosen to construct ties of South-South cooperation with low-income countries, often through bilateral development partnership agreements.

What does China’s emergence as a net donor, which gives more aid than it receives, tell us about changes in global aid policy?

State of the Debate Study

Building on a long tradition of IDS work on China as a development actor, including the Asian Drivers Programme, and extensive work by Jing Gu on China’s private sector development in Africa, the RPID programme will produce a flagship ‘State of the Debate’ study. This will analyse China’s domestic policy debate on international development cooperation.

A special, forthcoming IDS Bulletin issue, edited by Jing Gu, Gerry Bloom and Xiulan Zhang and titled ‘China and International Development: Opportunities and Challenges’ is also being hosted within the RPID programme.

Image credit: Dieter Telemans / Panos

Key contacts

Jing Gu

Research Fellow, Centre Director

+44 (0)1273 915692

Project details

start date
1 April 2012
end date
31 March 2016


About this project


Recent work


BRICS Summit a turning point for China’s influence on global development

Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa recently convened for their 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China. IDS Fellow and Centre for Rising Powers and Global Deveopment Director, Dr Jing Gu, said this Summit could represent at turning point for China's influence on global development.

5 September 2017


Trump, Xi and a post-Western World

With two of the world's most powerful leaders, President Trump and President Xi, now planning to meet, it's a good time to reflect on the possible decline of the West’s hold on international politics and the rise and influence of the East on global governance.

14 March 2017


China’s Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with Africa

IDS Policy Briefing 111

Convened in South Africa in December 2015, the 6th Meeting of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) culminated in the Johannesburg Action Plan under the theme ‘China–Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development’.

17 February 2016

Journal Article

China and International Development: Challenges and Opportunities


In parallel to its domestic economic boom, China has grown increasingly active and influential on the international stage, including in global development. China’s re-emergence on the global stage is both a cause and a symptom of the fundamental sea change now affecting development assistance...

15 July 2014