What do China's dramatic transformations over the last 30 years imply for development studies and practice? China has lifted a record number of people out of poverty, and has had sustained levels of economic growth close to ten per cent per annum, albeit at well-documented environmental and social costs. China now appears to be developing effective responses to the global financial crisis, and fairly recently China's global role has seen an enormous surge. It is making these transformations with institutions that continue to surprise international observers, while China experts usually merely emphasise the pragmatic nature of its post-1978 reforms. The "rise of China", thus, is challenging our perspectives and practices in international development. While China's experience has largely remained outside the mainstream development debate, an increasing number of studies and essays have started to articulate the lessons from China's development path for the international development community, and particularly for Africa. This paper reflects on the different interpretations of these lessons, as well as the process of lesson learning, which so far has been strongly supply-driven. It further discusses China's new global economic and political role, and the position of China's aid as "soft power" within the new global structures. These new trends make it essential to reflect on how we understand development and globalisation. To do so we need better mutual understanding and particularly a better understanding of how and why China achieved what it did over the last 30 years, and its remaining challenges. This essay is a modest attempt to promote this.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISS Working Papers - General Series
ISS Working Paper Series / General Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

de Haan, A. (2009). Will China change international development as we know it?. ISS Working Paper Series / General Series (Vol. 475, pp. 1–27). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/18718