Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


Table of Contents

International development projects in China

International development projects in China

CIDA disbursements in China

Total: $27.29 million
Portrait of an elderly Chinese woman and young girl. © ACDI-CIDA/Roger LeMoyne


China has made substantial development progress in the last three decades. Its ongoing transition to a market system, decentralization of government services, and opening up of its economy have lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty.

Between 1981 and 2005, the number of people in China living on less than US$1.25/day dropped from 84 percent to 13 percent. China ranks 101 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 human development index and has met most of the Millennium Development Goals.

Despite these significant achievements, China's development still lags in several key areas. Important issues relating to human rights, rule of law, working conditions, and environmental protection require more attention. A significant number of China's citizens—including many of its 200 million migrant workers and 100 million ethnic minorities—have been marginalized from the benefits of China's economic growth and social service system. Ethnic minority groups face additional challenges concerning the preservation of their languages and cultural heritage.

Over the last decade, China has launched reforms in its justice sector, including measures to increase access to legal services. It has put in place new labour laws to better protect worker rights and relaxed the residency rules for migrant workers. It has also established programs to assist rural and remote communities, including ethnic minority areas. The implementation of these reforms, however, has been uneven, and serious challenges remain.

As the world's most populated country and an increasingly influential member of the international community, it is important that China, a model for many other developing countries, implement its international human rights and environmental protection commitments.

China is seeking international expertise to make its reforms more effective.

As part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, Canada is restructuring and streamlining its operations. By March 2014, all international development funding for country-to-country (bilateral) programs in China will end and all existing project and contract work will be completed. China will continue to remain eligible for support through Multilateral and global programs (including international humanitarian assistance when needed) and Partnerships with Canadians programs.

Thematic Focus

The goal of Canada's international development assistance program in China is to promote human rights and sound environmental management.

Canada does not provide financial support to the Government of China. Instead, the funding supports the delivery of technical expertise by Canadian organizations to Chinese agencies that are implementing human rights and environmental reforms.

Human rights

Canada works at local levels to improve the implementation of human rights reforms for marginalized groups such as migrant workers and ethnic minorities. These efforts includes support for improving access to legal services for marginalized groups and strengthening the capacity of legal professionals to guarantee due process of law.

Through international development programmings , experts work with local organizations to introduce reforms that prevent labour exploitation; improve working conditions; and resolve workplace disputes for migrant workers.

Canada supports ethnic minority rights by promoting community development in ethnic minority areas.

Selected examples of expected results
  • Some 120,000 migrant workers will receive information on labour rights to help improve the occupational health and safety of their workplaces
  • Some 600,000 individuals from ethnic minority areas will be trained in participatory community development to help preserve language and cultural heritage.

Environmental sustainability

Canada's program has focused on strengthening environmental management policies to:

  • Reduce pollution emissions
  • Prevent land degradation
  • Improve environmental health
  • Increase compliance with international environment agreements

Canada has provided research-based high-level international expert advice on environment and development policies.

Increasing environmental sustainability is one of DFATD's cross-cutting themes for international development.

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

China adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages) and leads in donor alignment and local ownership. It has a strong track record of implementing and replicating development approaches based on advice received from Canada and other donor countries.

Achievements 2011-2012

Human rights

  • Improved occupational health and safety for nearly 3,000,000 migrant workers, including 10,000 ethnic minority workers in remote rural regions of Chongqing.
  • Supported vocational schools across 20 provinces to train young workers in the construction, textile, and mining sectors on occupational health and on safety and labour rights.
  • Helped more than 1.5 million students in Anhui and Hunan provinces receive information on the prevention of trafficking for labour exploitation.
  • Helped the provincial government of Jiangsu to formulate legislation to improve labour regulations and prevent the exploitation of student workers.
  • Helped the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics develop surveying methodologies to support the planning of government programs for migrant workers and their families in urban areas.

Environmental sustainability

  • Provided advice to the Government of China through the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and influenced China's response to critical issues related to ecosystem management, the marine environment, soil pollution, and water resource management. Specifically, a law on water and soil conservation was adopted, and the government has recommended legislation for the prevention and treatment of soil pollution and ecological protection.

Achievements 2010-2011

Human rights

  • Improved occupational health and safety for 1.5 million migrant workers in the construction sector in Chongqing municipality by increasing access to training resources and legal aid services
  • Helped 700 coal mines in Chongqing adopt Canadian occupational health and safety practices contributing to a 63 percent reduction in deaths of coal miners in 2011 as compared to 2008
  • Helped the Government of China adopt 16 policies related to rule of law, labour rights and ethnic minority rights including guidelines to protect the cultural heritage of Hui Muslims, guidelines to allow the use of Qiang language in local media, and a motion which has been submitted to the National People's Congress to develop a unified national maternity insurance law, expand coverage and improve benefits
  • More than 250,000 young men and women have received information about trafficking for labour exploitation and their rights as migrant workers, and more than 35,000 women and children have received support services from women's homes and community service centers in order to prevent or address trafficking / labour exploitation

Environmental sustainability

  • Provided advice to the Government of China through the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and influenced China's adoption of several measures including mandatory targets for nitrogen and ammonia pollution reduction by 2015 (to achieve a low carbon economy); renewable energy objectives for wind and solar power; and a national management system for environmental health
  • Helped the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics develop environmental surveying and an environmental accounting framework in accordance with internationally recognized and adopted concepts which creates specific accounts for mineral resources, energy resources, and pollution emissions, providing China with essential tools to monitor and manage its natural resources in a more environmentally sustainable manner

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