China Pledges New Global Development Initiative Projects at Beijing Forum

China Pledges New Global Development Initiative Projects at Beijing Forum
The Beijing office building that houses the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA). Photo credit: Charlie Fong, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Lede: On Monday, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi announced eleven new foreign development projects under the Global Development Initiative (GDI), which shifts Beijing's foreign investment efforts from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) toward projects in line with the UN's Agenda for Sustainable Development.

What We Know:

  • China hosted an event called the First High-Level Conference of the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development in Beijing with the theme of "Global Development Initiative: Echo the Development Agenda and Call for Global Action." The event was organized by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and attended by Chinese officials, foreign leaders, and representatives from international and non-governmental organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • At the event, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi promoted the country’s Global Development Initiative and announced eleven new foreign development projects in cooperation with global south countries. These will include power plants, a community hospital, and public transport. Funding for these projects will come from China’s foreign aid agency and will involve resources from the private sector as well as social and international organizations.
  • This comes as another infrastructure development project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has come under criticism in Jordan with the completion of the Attarat power plant, which is no longer needed as a source of energy as other agreements have been made since the project’s conception 15 years ago. Under the original agreement, Jordan would have to pay China $8.4 billion over 30 years to buy electricity generated by the plant.

The Background: Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the GDI in 2021 in order to implement projects in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN agenda includes goals such as poverty reduction, quality education, gender equality, and combating climate change. The Chinese government has noted that more than 100 countries and international organizations have expressed support for the GDI. The GDI runs alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has resulted in more than $1 trillion in infrastructure projects around the world in the past decade. Chinese collaboration on foreign projects has had mixed results and reception due to numerous examples of crippling debt burdens on Asian and African states.

Likely Outcomes:

  • China will continue to seek the appeal of developing countries as a fellow developing country that has the capacity to lift up others. Chinese efforts will aim to forge friendly relations with countries in the global south to secure development projects while sowing goodwill and offering an alternative to Western-led cooperation.
  • As the Chinese government dampens its rhetoric on the BRI after celebrating its 10th anniversary, the GDI has emerged with a different approach for Beijing to interface with international development. Aside from Chinese bank and sovereign wealth fund lending for infrastructure projects in the BRI structure, Beijing may pursue new avenues with the GDI, which would target specific development challenges in collaboration with international development organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Given the reputation of ‘debt trap diplomacy’ involved in BRI projects, this would give Chinese foreign aid and cooperation a level of transparency and solvency that Beijing seeks.


“No matter how the international situation may evolve, China will stay true to its status as a developing country, and stand firmly side by side with fellow countries of the South for shared development and joint revitalization.” - Wang Yi, State Councilor of China

“So it’s fair to say that any country without harboring any bias or political motivation and any country in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals has no reason to oppose the GDI.” – Mr Zhao Fengtao, vice-chairman of CIDCA

"China doesn't bring with it the baggage of the United States in that we actually have some concern about democratic processes, transparency, corruption. For authoritarian states, there's some appeal in China." – David Schenker, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Middle East policy

Good Reads:

China announces 11 foreign aid projects to court developing countries (Strait Times)

China will promote more positive, effective and sustainable measures to implement global development initiatives: Senior diplomat (CCTV)

China holds high-level conference, highlighting global development cooperation (People’s Daily)

China’s Switch From the Belt and Road to the Global Development Initiative (The Diplomat)