China on Sunday published a white paper on its international development cooperation model to push its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has slowed down following the outbreak of Covid and pushback by various countries facing huge debts due to the mega connectivity project

Comprising eight chapters, the white paper states China’s views on international development cooperation, the actions it has taken, and its plans for the future. This is the first time China has brought out a white paper on development cooperation as part of its attempts to push soft power amid backlash against Beijing in various parts of the world following the Covid outbreak.

“China’s development cooperation provides a platform of mutual assistance between developing countries. It falls into the category of South-South cooperation and therefore is essentially different from North-South cooperation,” read the white paper taking a cue from India's decades-old model of South-South cooperation.

The White Paper also claimed that China is an active contributor to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and provides gracious aid to developing countries.

The paper further claimed that China has actively shared technology achievements with other countries in recent years, including training 7,700 people from more than 100 developing countries and regions, and launching training projects on 3D printing and satellite applications.

From 2013 to 2018, China provided 270.2 billion yuan ($41.73 billion) in financial aid to foreign countries and regions, including an aid of 127.8 billion yuan, according to the paper. The aid was mainly to help other developing countries build small and medium-sized social welfare projects and to fund projects for cooperation in human resources development, technical cooperation, material assistance, and emergency humanitarian assistance, the white paper claimed. The paper also touted humanitarian assistance extended by Beijing to various countries during Covid.

It may be noted that China has been criticised by various countries including in its neighbourhood for pushing them into a debt trap through loans and higher interest rates. It has also been accused of changing terms and conditions of contract midway through the project. Beijing has also moved to control assets funded by it in partner countries if those states could not repay loans.

BRI involves penetration of Chinese financial products in partner states, preferential trade agreements, training of officials from partner states, creating alignments on governance norms besides supply of raw material and labour from China for the projects. India has expressed strong reservations against BRI since it was launched as the initiative not only violates sovereignty through CPEC but also involves an opaque financing model that leads to indebtedness.