China and Ethiopia railway AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese Model for Foreign Aid

As the United States and the European Union retreat from their foreign-aid commitments, only one country has the resources and the interest to assume the mantle of global development leadership. The world will have to become accustomed to China's new role.

SINGAPORE – Last month, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released a status report tracking progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The data, which were meant to highlight efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce premature deaths, was also intended to cajole. Countries can, and must, do more to address the global development challenges that the planet collectively faces, the report concluded.

No country was singled out in the Gates report for its potential to restore the “world’s commitment to development.” Rather, “leaders everywhere” bear responsibility for ensuring that the SDGs are met by 2030. But we believe there is one country that can do more than others to build the world envisaged by the SDGs: China.

Two years into the SDG program, international development is at a crossroads. The United States, long the torchbearer of foreign aid, is retreating; so is Europe (albeit to a lesser extent). But China, with its newly articulated global ambitions, has an opportunity to reinvigorate the conception and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

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