China: development research priorities. Report on consultations for DFID's global research strategy 2008-2013


A series of three consultations were organised jointly by IDS and DFID-China as part of DFID's global consultations on its research strategy for 2008-2013. The China consultations focused on three of the identified priority themes: Agriculture, Health (the challenge of infectious diseases), and Climate Change. Each consultation was facilitated by DFID-China staff and an expert in the relevant field who was responsible for writing a summary report from each meeting.

The objectives of the meetings from the perspective of CRD and DFID-China were to gain insights from the Chinese research community on a) what the development research priorities should be; and b) how researchers in China, as an emerging global player, could be better connected with the international development research community.

Each consultation brought together approximately 25-30 distinguished Chinese researchers and a small number of policy makers and international scholars in the respective areas. While each consultation included a broad range of perspectives and disciplinary approaches, the discussions reflected some biases and gaps arising from the selection of individuals and institutions who participated. This synthesis draws on other sources of information to point out some of these potential biases and gaps.

In brief, the main conclusions of the research consultations are as follows:

(1) Chinese researchers recognised the significance of DFID'S role in development research in China

(2) CRD research themes resonate with current development priorities within China

(3) Engaging China in research on global development issues is imperative if progress is to be maintained in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development on a global scale

(4) As China becomes a significant global actor, engagement in collaborative research efforts will in itself constitute a global public good

(5) A number of general needs were identified (in addition to the more specific recommendations listed later). These include:
- basic scientific research focusing on linkages with social science and policy research
- multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches and methodologies
- stronger understanding and analysis of institutional issues, policy processes and channels for translating research into practice
- methodologies for monitoring and evaluating current experiences

(6) Chinese collaboration in international research programmes needs to be based on identification of research priorities that are responsive to demand, informed by shared interests and undertaken from an understanding of China's interests and incentives for engagement; and research topics that are framed in ways that are sensitive to political and policy priorities in order to ensure policy support and impact.

(7) Greater support is needed for building effective partnerships for collaborative research (various measures are suggested)

(8) Short studies could be commissioned to fill knowledge gaps on the context and constraints for global partnerships.

A number of general considerations for cooperation are also highlighted.

This report also includes the summary reports and recommendations arising from each consultation. Suggested priorities for the 3 research sectors were as follows:

Sustainable Agriculture

  • Need for research to address the knowledge gap on the role of research in China's agricultural development
  • More proactive communication of DFID's research objectives and opportunities to Chinese researchers
  • Joint work with the Chinese on agriculture in Africa
  • Engagement of Chinese bureaucrats and researchers in DFID's Research into Use programme, which focuses on uptake and creating effective innovation platforms and pathways
  • Documentation of research


Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK, 27 pp.

China: development research priorities. Report on consultations for DFID’s global research strategy 2008-2013

Published 1 January 2007