Mapping China’s Multilateralism: A Data Survey of China’s Participation in Multilateral Development Institutions and Funds

A considerable body of recent research attempts to shed light on China’s bilateral aid and finance flows, but there have been fewer efforts focused on China’s participation in multilateral development channels. As a result, China’s role across the landscape of multilateral institutions and funds is poorly understood, even as China has emerged as a leading donor within many of these entities. Part of China’s increased multilateral engagement reflects its economic growth, with shareholding and assessed contributions based largely on economic size. But the government of China’s policy choices are also revealed, in part, through its patterns of voluntary funding, cooperation agreements, and influence through personnel instated in leadership positions.

By collating data on China’s financial and non-financial engagement with multilateral development banks and other financial institutions, sector-based vertical funds, and the development entities of the United Nations, among others, this paper seeks to provide a clear picture of China’s role in the multilateral development system and the evolution of that role over the past decade. This assessment brings to light the weight of China’s voting power across the multilateral development banks, the extent to which Chinese firms benefit from procurement opportunities in multilateral institutions, and the degree to which China has achieved a singular position of being a large-scale donor and recipient in the multilateral system.

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