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China Says New Agency Will Improve Foreign Aid Coordination

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 14, 2017.

China plans to set up an international development cooperation agency, according to a parliament document released on Tuesday, to better coordinate its foreign aid program.

The new agency will be responsible for forming policies on foreign aid, as well as granting aid and overseeing its implementation, according to the document.

"The move is to give full play to foreign aid as a key means of major-country diplomacy, enhance strategic planning and coordination of foreign aid, and better serve the country's overall diplomatic layout and the Belt and Road Initiative," state news agency Xinhua said.

The Belt and Road initiative refers to President Xi Jinping's landmark scheme to build a new Silk Road, connecting China to Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond.

The new agency will be formed as part of a broad reshuffle of government departments that China's largely rubber-stamp parliament will formally approve on Saturday.

China has only occasionally provided details of its foreign aid program in recent years.

The last time it did, in a policy paper released in 2014, it said more than half of China's foreign aid of more than $14 billion between 2010 and 2012 was directed to Africa, underscoring Beijing's interest in the resource-rich continent to fuel its economy.

It provided no breakdown of aid recipients or any yearly figures. In 2011, China put its total foreign aid over the past six decades at 256.29 billion yuan ($40.51 billion).

Some Chinese projects have attracted attention for China's support of governments with poor human rights records and lack of transparency, such as Zimbabwe, Sudan and Angola.

China says its aid has no political strings attached, unlike many Western countries, and that its development programs are often much more warmly welcomed as a result.

($1 = 6.3270 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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