Pre-submission Seminar: A Promising New Trend? Factors Driving Growing Chinese Aid Cooperation

Denghua Zhang presenting during SSGM seminar. Image SSGM

China as an emerging donor has attracted growing international attention and raised grave concerns about its impact on the international aid regime. Despite its distinctive aid norms and practice, and its refusal to align with the international aid regime, China is conducting growing trilateral aid cooperation with traditional donor states and international organizations. This new phenomenon is under-researched and remains poorly understood.

This innovative research project proposes to fill the gap and probe into the main factors driving Chinese trilateral aid cooperation. Three aspects -national interest calculation, external engagement on foreign aid, and domestic bureaucratic institutions -have been examined to provide a holistic analysis. In particular, the research has contextualized Chinese trilateral aid cooperation in particular settings by tracing three representative case studies in Asia-Pacific region which involves Chinese trilateral aid cooperation with the United Nations Development Program, the United States and Australia in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea respectively. The research concludes that China’s adoption of trilateral aid cooperation reflects China’s stronger desire for global image building as a responsible great power and its stronger desire to learn through growing external engagement on development assistance.

As foreign aid constitutes an integral part of China’s foreign policy, this research also discusses the implications of China’s trilateral aid cooperation on its overall foreign aid program and foreign policy at large. Suggestions are also drawn for future cooperation between China and traditional donor states/international organizations.

Denghua Zhang became a PhD candidate at SSGM, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University in January 2014. He had a decade long career as a public servant in China before coming to ANU to pursue a higher degree. His PhD research focuses on Chinese trilateral aid cooperation in recent years, an intriguing yet under-researched phenomenon. His fieldwork has covered Chinese trilateral aid cooperation in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. He has published on Chinese foreign aid and trilateral cooperation and been invited to present at conferences in Australia, China, Cambodia, EU, Samoa, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Thailand.

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