On September 5, the Ministry of Commerce announced that Yu Jianhua, Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy Trade Representative, had signed agreements with representatives from the World Food Programme, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The agreements are to offer aid to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Somalia which suffer food shortages. The Ministry of Commerce is working around the clock to draw up a detailed aid plan to help these countries deal with their humanitarian crises.
The signing of these agreements is a step to fully put into practice China's pledge to aid the international community, which was made by President Xi Jinping during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May.
On May 14, President Xi said in his speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum that China would offer assistance worth 60 billion yuan ($9.15 billion) to developing countries and international organizations that participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. The financial assistance will help promote economic development and improve local people's livelihood. According to Xi, China will provide the developing countries along the Belt and Road with emergency food aid worth 2 billion yuan ($305 million) and make a donation of $1 billion to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation.Such foreign aid pledged by China is warmly welcomed by related states and the internationalcommunity.
More importantly, the world is witnessing China's efforts to increase aid to other developing countries.
According to statistics released by the Chinese Government, since the Belt and Road Initiative was put forward in 2013, China has realized remarkable growth in aid offered, which has surpassed the total amount it previously gave from 2003 to 2013. Moreover, China's rapid aid growth makes a strong contrast with the decline in developed countries' contributions over the past four years. The report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on developed nations' aid to developing nations in 2015 shows that the official development assistance (ODA) from 28 developed economies accounted for 0.3 percent of their combined gross national income, much lower than 0.7 percent, the minimum requirement proposed by the United Nations.
The aid growth shows that China is willing to shoulder more tasks to make the world better.
In the 1950s, despite enormous economic hardship, China had managed to provide economic and technicalassistance to other developing countries which had recently gained independence.
Today China enhancing its foreign aid causes both praise and misunderstandings around the world. Some turn a blind eye to China's efforts and distort China's aid as a new approach to "colonialism" in Africa and other regions. Some foreign media outlets are always keen on presuming China's intentions with regard to the practice of offering aid.
There are explicit clauses in the UN Charter on encouraging foreign aid. Developed countries should bear the duty to help developing countries with poverty reduction and humanitarian rescue. The Development Assistance Committee under the OECD is also in charge of coordinating developed countries' assistance to developing countries. As the largest developing country and emerging economy, China is willing to provide aid for others in need of help.
Unlike some developed countries, China never attaches political requirements to its foreign aid. China sticks to the principle of equality and mutual benefit while emphasizing the effect and efficiency of the aid.
China fully respects recipient countries' rights to choose the model of development that fit their national conditions. The basic principles for China's foreign assistance are mutual respect, equal treatment and mutual benefit. Offering assistance with certain political attachments is nothing else but a means to coerce a country by taking advantage of its difficulties, which is totally repugnant.
The objective of China's foreign aid is clear: to help the recipients with poverty relief and livelihood improvement. China's foreign aid focuses on agricultural development, education, medical services improvement and public facilities construction, as well as humanitarian aid after severe natural disasters.
Currently, developing countries, particularly the least-developed ones, are still burdened with the arduous task of poverty relief and development. The international community should encourage more efforts to strengthen North-South dialogue and South-South cooperation, push forward economic and social development in developing countries and realize the goal of eliminating poverty around the globe.
As a major country in world affairs, China stands ready to promote common development and prosperity together with the rest of the world.
Copyedited by Chris Surtees
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