By establishing structural transformation as the China International Development Cooperation Agency’s core objective, Beijing will have an opportunity to take a leadership role in advancing the international development agenda.
Beijing has long been concerned about its exposure to Venezuela’s slow-motion descent into crisis. There’s also a broader story about China’s efforts to promote itself as a leader of international development and South-South ties.
The China International Development Cooperation Agency could help China coordinate its aid portfolio more efficiently. But it is more difficult to say whether the new agency will make Chinese aid disbursement and procurement decisionmaking more transparent.
The recent expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative into Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is unlikely to bring fundamental change to China–LAC economic relations. It may, however, catalyze a more volatile LAC–China–US geopolitical relationship.
The signature project of the 16+1 framework between China and sixteen countries in central and eastern Europe is a Chinese-financed railway between Hungary and Serbia. The project has become a symbol of not just the 16+1 framework but also of what China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) means for Europe.
How China should understand and manage political risk in Venezuela has become one of the most important, if too often ignored, questions not just in China’s relationship with Latin America, but in its broader efforts to be seen as an agent and leader of development on the world stage.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established far earlier than the BRI, and it has become a sophisticated framework for China’s partnerships with African countries. Thus, FOCAC can be a mini-version of multilateral cooperation that aids the implementation of BRI projects.
China has often been accused of practicing “debt-trap diplomacy”—miring supposed partners, particularly developing countries, in unsustainable debt-based relationships. But this is a misreading of the issue, and nowhere is this more apparent than in China’s dealings with Venezuela.
China and Latin America must confront the legacy of past deals gone wrong and attempt to move beyond commodity-based trade, investment and financing ties to forge more infrastructure cooperation.
Concerns about China’s mercantilist trade and investment policies have been at the forefront of growing frictions between China, the EU and the United States, but the Belt and Road Initiative has also highlighted worries about the lending of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects by its “policy banks”.