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JICA’s China office to stay open even after end of development aid

  • March 30, 2022
  • , Kyodo News , 10:20 p.m.
  • English Press
  • ,

BEIJING – The Japan International Cooperation Agency’s office in China will remain open even after Tokyo’s decades-old official development aid to the world’s most populous country ends in March.

 

The Japanese government has determined that keeping the JICA office in Beijing open is necessary to grasp better China’s new role as a major provider of economic assistance to developing countries, officials said.

 

Japan’s official development assistance to China started in December 1979 and has contributed to an improvement in infrastructure and helping China rise to its current status as the world’s second-largest economic power.

 

The total amount of ODA, including technical cooperation, over the four-decade period surpassed 3.6 trillion yen ($30 billion), of which 157.6 billion yen was in grant aid.

 

The termination of the Japanese aid was announced in October 2018 by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying that the two countries should explore a new type of cooperation given China’s evolution to a global economic power.

 

As China’s expanding influence through such initiatives as President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road infrastructure program cannot be overlooked in light of Japan’s foreign policy strategy, the officials said the government-backed aid agency will continue to engage in discussions with Chinese bodies in charge of providing foreign assistance.

 

One of the officials said that when the Japanese government told China of its intention to maintain the office, Beijing sought to have a document stating JICA’s readiness to work toward bilateral cooperation in projects associated with the Belt and Road Initiative or third countries. But Japan declined the Chinese request noting that JICA has no such role.

 

JICA, which had about 60 staff members working at the office at its peak, also plans to offer help to Japanese companies hoping to make a foray into China.

 

But some government officials are skeptical about JICA’s plan in terms of achieving economic security and protecting important Japanese technologies from being stolen or leaked, even though China is now Japan’s biggest trading partner.

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