International Development Cooperation at The Asia Foundation
Anthea Mulakala is the Senior Director for International Development Cooperation at The Asia Foundation. She has more than 25 years’ experience leading and managing programmes across Asia in reproductive health, conflict prevention and peace building, governance, and regional cooperation. Over the last decade, she has honed her expertise on Asian development cooperation, particularly understanding how rising powers such
as China and India are transforming the twenty-first century aid and development landscape. She also writes, publishes, and speaks extensively on these issues.
The Asia Foundation
Robin Bush is Country Representative for The Asia Foundation, Malaysia. She teaches classes on public policy, contemporary Asia, and Southeast Asian politics at the Singapore Management University (SMU). She holds a PhD in political science and publishes on issues of religion and development, Indonesian politics, and migration. She has over 20 years’ experience in international development in Southeast Asia, leading and managing programmes related to religion and development, governance reform, and knowledge and innovation ecosystems.
The Asia Foundation
Hongbo Ji is the Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in China, a position she has held since 2016. She has been leading the Foundation’s work on China’s constructive global engagement, including efforts by Chinese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to work internationally. Prior to joining The Asia Foundation, Hongbo worked on bilateral and multilateral donor-funded poverty reduction and rural development projects in China. She also has five years’ diplomatic experience with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Published: November 26, 2021
China’s 2021 White Paper, China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era, offers a new vision for a more people-centred approach to its development cooperation. While the White Paper extensively discusses partnerships, it only briefly mentions encouraging cooperation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This article argues that NGO engagement in international development activities would improve their effectiveness, a view shared by many Chinese scholars and practitioners. However, challenges exist that constrain optimal engagement, especially access to funding, and a weak enabling environment and policy framework. This article addresses these challenges, drawing from the literature on ‘going out’ among Chinese NGOs and social organisations, along with interviews with key players in the Chinese NGO ecosystem. The article recommends, among other things, that the government clarify and improve its policy framework for NGOs/social organisations in support of China’s international development collaboration, especially regarding funding flows, personnel regulations, and material and capital outflows.