Just one year ago, on April 18, 2018, China formally established its first independent foreign aid agency: the China International Development Cooperation Administration (CIDCA). Attention from top leadership attested to the importance of this new agency: The opening ceremony was chaired by Politburo member Yang Jiechi and attended by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the two most senior foreign policy officials of China. The establishment of CIDCA addresses a long debate in China about its foreign aid reform and the creation of an independent aid agency.
However, one year into its creation, has CIDCA begun to make a difference? An examination of its mandate and setup reveals a genuine effort by China to reform and improve its aid practices. However, a scrutiny of the foreign aid budget allocation suggests that CIDCA will have a long way to go to take full charge, if it ever will. CIDCA might have become the face of China’s foreign aid for the foreign audience, and it might participate extensively in the coordination of aid decisions; however, the internal bureaucracy dictates that money, hence the authority, still lies elsewhere.
Read the full op-ed in Brookings.