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China’s new white paper on international development assistance provides a glimpse into its current thinking and approach to development assistance.

While China continues to be treated as a developing country by multilateral development agencies such as the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the country has itself become a leading provider of foreign aid.

Yet it continues to view development assistance through a very different lens than that of established donor countries. In fact, China does not consider itself a donor at all, but rather a South-South cooperation development partner.

In practice, China’s development assistance is heavily intertwined…


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An obvious consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the sharp reduction in global air travel and postponement of nearly all face-to-face global meetings and conferences. All sectors experienced an “events lockdown”, including international development organisations like the World Bank, which cancelled all in-person meetings beginning in March 2020.

Civil society activists, who normally travelled to participate in major discussions on development-issues, were among those grounded at home. One might conclude, therefore, that the pandemic undermined participatory global governance, leaving the deliberations on critical issues to an exclusive group of senior officials in public sector organizations. The evidence, however, points…


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As countries continue to battle the insidious virus, a chorus of voices is rising up to demand fundamental changes in the way governments and industries approach global threats.

The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic downturn has highlighted humanity’s interconnectedness, as well as its vulnerabilities. This painful period has also put into stark relief the failure of policy and strategic decisions to adequately respond to major global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss. Stimulus measures adopted over a decade ago in response to the global economic and financial crisis created unhealthy path-dependencies in transport and energy.

As countries continue to…


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The COVID-19 pandemic, and government responses to contain spread of the virus, have led to economic contraction across developing Asia and the Pacific. The region is expected to record virtually no GDP growth for the year and, in fact, may experience its lowest growth rate since 1961. The pandemic has killed thousands, wiped out millions of jobs, and exacerbated deprivation in the world’s most populous region.

World Bank researchers estimate that between 134 million and 172 million people in South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific will be plunged into poverty by the crisis. The ILO has reported that…


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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is helping member countries respond to the debilitating socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, with an increased focus on social infrastructure.

Since it began operations five years ago this month, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has — as its name suggests — focused on financing infrastructure. The bank’s articles of agreement state it will “foster sustainable economic development, create wealth, and improve infrastructure connectivity in Asia by investing in infrastructure and other productive sectors”.

Its long-term strategy, approved last year, describes a mission of “financing infrastructure for tomorrow”. So far, the AIIB’s operations have been almost…


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Photo by Swapnil Bapat on Unsplash

As Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency, foreign policy will be high on his agenda, including US relations with Asia. In this context, boosting economic relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must be a priority.

ASEAN comprises a diverse mix of ten Southeast Asian countries, including: the sprawling archipelagic nation of Indonesia; land-locked, mountainous Laos, and the high-tech financial center that is Singapore. Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam round out the membership. ASEAN countries boast a population of 670 million — more than the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada combined.

ASEAN’s…


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I wrote this article with Al Dingwall, former senior editor at the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It was first published on ADB’s website on 15 July 2020.

As a result of the pandemic, fewer people are using cash and more have moved to a variety of digital payment options. But don’t count cash out yet.

Banknotes and coins have been very visible casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in India, where cash is still king, ATM use dropped by about half in April. …


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Photo by Akson on Unsplash

I wrote this article with Al Dingwall, former senior editor, Asian Development Bank (ADB). It was originally published on 23 June 2020 on ADB’s website.

Universities that adopt quality online learning, forge significant partnerships, and demonstrate results in preparing students of all ages for work in a technology-driven economy, stand the best chance of thriving after the pandemic.

Three years ago, Clayton Christensen, who developed the theory of “disruptive innovation,” predicted that half of colleges and universities in the United States would be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years. His prediction may be hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has…


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Photo by Remy Gieling on Unsplash

This article was originally published on 5 May 2020 on the website of the Asian Development Bank.

The pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of the globalized supply chain model.

The emergency created by COVID-19 has stimulated innovation, creativity and novel ways of structuring tasks, organizations, and systems. In the midst of this worldwide crisis, it is hard to assess what temporary measures will become more permanent — or will morph into something else.

But we need to consider what might come next, when the light at the end of the tunnel becomes an open sky. As our eyes adjust, we…


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This article was originally published on 3 January 2019 on the website of the Asian Development Bank.

Five steps we can take to ensure that school-leavers are ready to enter the workforce that awaits them in the future.

The US economy has been booming, with low unemployment and rising wages. But as the curtain came down on 2018, we saw wild fluctuations in the stock market and signs of a slowing economy.

As we enter the New Year, there is all the more reason for an intensified focus on developing plans for how workers need to be skilled for the…

Bart Édes

Experienced international trade and development policy specialist analyzing transformative trends reshaping Asia & the world.

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