China’s growth and influence in the global arena mean that this country is an important partner for Norway. Environment, climate change and welfare development are the main areas for our cooperation with the most populous country on Earth.

Facts about China

The flag for China
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for China

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

China’s tremendous growth during the last decades has helped change the global balance of power. The country is going through the most rapid urbanization the world has ever seen, industrial agriculture is developing rapidly and the Chinese authorities claim that the country is set to achieve all the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

China’s last national five-year plan (2011–2015) is the basis for the country’s development until 2016. In its inclusion of goals for development other than economic growth, the plan represents a clear change from previous practice. Increased focus on research and higher education is a key element of the Chinese development model.

This plan also includes specific goals for reduction of pollution levels. A key concept for the authorities is “ecological civilization”. This reflects a vision for a unified and coordinated development that strikes a balance between growth, environment and social progress. The extreme air pollution, as well as pollution of water and soil, are now drawing a high degree of attention from the authorities and the media. Environmental problems are a significant cause of demonstrations in China, and a number of major industrial projects have been shelved because of these demonstrations.

Greater visibility

In recent years, the spread of social media has represented an interesting development. Today, more than 400 million Chinese are using Weibo, a service similar to Twitter. Several analysts believe that unless Weibo becomes subject to stricter censorship, it will in practice represent a space for a more open public debate. In turn, this may establish important premises for the future development of China’s political system.

While China for many years grew unobtrusively, the country has today become a visible and active participant in the global arena. In 2013, the Chinese economy grew by 7.7 per cent, according to official Chinese figures.

China’s programmes in Africa are an example of how traditional development cooperation is in the process of changing. The country’s first white paper on development aid was published in 2011. Key principles in the white paper include South-South cooperation, non-interference and mutual benefit.

The main goal for Norway’s development cooperation with China is to strengthen competence in areas where Norway possesses specialist competence, especially with regard to environmental issues including climate change/energy, governance and human rights. Through academic cooperation, Norway will seek to reinforce the ability of Chinese environmental authorities to reduce and prevent environmental problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, environmental toxins and biodiversity.

Environment and climate change

Environment and climate change represent the largest sector of Norwegian-Chinese cooperation. The largest partner in these agreements is the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), which is the ministry responsible for China as a development aid recipient and actor, while the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) is responsible for implementation of the projects.

The three focus areas for the Norwegian cooperation with China on environment are environmental toxins, biological diversity and climate change. Cooperation on the environment and climate change has been pursued since the mid-1990s and is intended to help strengthen environmental legislation and capacity building for China’s implementation of international environmental agreements. The cooperation has devoted increasing attention to climate change, and two major projects now help reinforce China’s greenhouse gas accounts and establish a national register for emissions trading.

A number of other projects seek to produce results in many of the prioritized cooperation areas. One example is the cooperation with the cement industry on appropriate incineration of organic waste, which has recently been expanded to testing of environmentally sound solutions for handling of household waste and sewage sludge. SINTEF is the Norwegian cooperation partner.

A further project regards biological diversity and climate change in conjunction and identifies measures that can reinforce ecosystem services and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This field is an international priority under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Climate Change.

Norway also provides support for the think-tank China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. This Chinese think-tank provides recommendations to the Chinese government with regard to achieving China’s environmental and development objectives. Norway has supported this council since its establishment in 1992, and Norwegian academics provide expertise in the preparation of reports and recommendations.

Norway was the first country to initiate cooperation with China on mercury a decade ago, and good results have been produced. From the Chinese side, it is pointed out that the cooperation with Norway has provided a key contribution to China’s participation in the negotiations on mercury and China’s signing of the Minamata Convention on mercury in October 2013. The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) has been the Norwegian partner in this cooperation.

In the area of environmental toxins, Norway also pursues cooperation with China on the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on organic environmental toxins.

The project focuses on the pollution status in China of the new environmental toxins that have now been included in the convention. Two new projects initiated in 2012 cover areas that are high on the environmental policy agenda in China: one seeks to achieve better monitoring of air pollution in China, the other has as its goal to reinforce the environmental authorities’ management of environmental risk.

Welfare development and social models

The Norwegian Embassy cooperates with agencies in Norway and China on improving welfare, redistribution and models for social development. The basis for this cooperation is China’s ambition to establish a welfare society adapted to Chinese conditions by 2020, drawing on Norway’s experience of establishing, funding and maintaining a welfare state.

In 2013, the embassy has helped support cooperation between Chinese authorities and international expert communities under the auspices of the UN system (UNDP), and facilitated a continuation of the multi-year academic cooperation between Norwegian and Chinese expert groups. The projects help promote capacity building and economic redistribution in China.

In 2013 as previously, the embassy contributed funds to the initiation of the “National Urban Policy Review” in China under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Norway contributes 20 per cent and the EU Commission 80 per cent of the funding. In addition, Norway provides an expert from the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation to the project. The goal is that the project should help promote good governance, economic development and fair distribution of wealth in China by providing advice to Chinese authorities on a statistical method that includes socioeconomic and environmental factors for management and monitoring of urbanization in China.


Norway is also seeking to help reduce China’s greenhouse gas emissions through contributions that can help strengthen the focus on energy efficiency and clean energy. The projects help raise awareness and enhance knowledge of technology that can improve energy efficiency in the manufacturing and construction sectors and reinforce the financial sector’s capacity to fund measures to improve energy efficiency.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also grants support to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program (REEEP), which is intended to improve the market for clean energy by supporting the authorities’ efforts to establish better regulations and facilitate business models for the private sector.


Major changes have occurred in the Chinese cultural sector over the last decade, but in several areas there is still a need for competence and exchange. The Norwegian cultural programme gives priority to long-term, mutual relationships between Norwegian and Chinese institutions.

The main project for 2013 was Concerts Norway’s programme for school concerts. Chinese educational institutions and public cultural institutions are the main partners on the Chinese side.

Exchange of guest teachers between the two countries has provided both parties with new knowledge about each other’s educational systems; this promotes increased understanding and exchange of competence. The school concerts have also provided a basis for networking and future exchange of students and teachers between public cultural and educational institutions in the two countries.

Conflict resolution

NOK 3 million was earmarked for seminar activities and research projects related to China’s geopolitical influence and China’s role in international conflict regions. In 2013, the embassy has given emphasis to projects for creating forums where Chinese and international actors can convene to discuss issues related to international conflict regions, China’s global role and China’s contributions to conflict resolution. A number of workshops and seminars have been organized in connection with these projects. Thematically, the global shift of power eastwards and the US-Chinese relationship have been key topics.

Aid effectiveness

Corruption is a large and widespread problem in China. The Norwegian Embassy and its main Chinese cooperation partners adhere to strict routines to avoid financial misconduct. These routines enter into force especially in the context of signing of agreements, implementation of projects and auditing of project accounts.

China has no formalized donor coordination. However, the donors engage in dialogue in the form of semi-annual meetings for exchange of information on the areas in which the countries cooperate, as well as through meetings called by the UN system at regular intervals. The embassy also maintains continuous and direct contact on development aid issues with other embassies in Beijing and with various UN organizations, especially UNDP.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015