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Raising Development Impact through Evaluation

People’s Republic of China Validation of the Country Partnership Strategy Final Review, 2016–2020

Evaluation Document | 21 May 2020

The Country Partnership Strategy: People’s Republic of China, 2016–2020 sought to support the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in its efforts to foster environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation, regional cooperation and integration, inclusive economic growth, knowledge cooperation, and institutional and governance reform.

From 1 January 2016 to 30 September 2019, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved $8.5 billion in new operations in the PRC. The total PRC program in that period was $23.4 billion when carryovers from earlier years are included, with the transport sector accounting for 25% of financing, the energy sector and agriculture, natural resources and rural development sector each for 22%, and water and other urban infrastructure and services for 19%. 

This validation assesses the program successful for sovereign and nonsovereign operations, concurring with the final review’s assessment. The validation rates the borrower’s performance highly satisfactory and ADB’s performance satisfactory.

The validation supports the continuation of the ADB PRC program even as the PRC has surpassed ADB’s graduation income threshold (a 2016 independent evaluation called for doing away with the graduation threshold). Six recommendations are made for ADB’s future role. ADB should: (i) strongly support the PRC’s contribution to global public goods, notably in climate change mitigation, ocean health, and public health, using an integrated approach; (ii) support the PRC’s harmonious contribution to regional integration especially in areas where ADB enjoys institutional comparative advantage such as subregional systems; (iii) strengthen support for institutional development, fair competition in the market, and private sector  development, including corporate standards in state-owned enterprises; (iv) support innovative projects with high demonstration and replication value both inside and outside the PRC and transfer the learning from this experience in a more systematic way; (v) apply a programmatic approach to the technical assistance (TA) program, focusing on selected priority areas, and make this program increasingly more value-added and reimbursable; and (vi) use instruments such as the recently approved financing term diversification policy and reimbursable TA to create strong and effective self-selection incentives for the PRC and other upper middle income countries to utilize ADB’s financial resources according to their preferences and assessment of the value addition by ADB, and reconsider the treatment of nonsovereign operations in ADB’s graduation policy.

Note on IED's Country Evaluations and Validations

Using its 2015 Guidelines for the Preparation of Country Assistance Program Evaluations and Country Partnership Strategy Final Review Validations, the Independent Evaluation Department (IED) intends to provide an objective and informed judgement of the performance and results of country partnership strategies (CPSs), particularly in terms of their relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and development impacts.

In ascertaining relevance, IED considers not only the alignment of the program with country needs and government objectives, but also cross-sector CPS objectives, appropriateness of modalities and sector program designs, and sufficiency of donor coordination.

The effectiveness of a country program in delivering results is also an important aspect of an IED evaluation. Primary focus is on the achievement of the outcomes and outputs of ADB interventions (and the likelihood of achievement if the program is still ongoing), as worded in CPSs and their results frameworks. These include knowledge products and institutional development efforts.

Performance and results are likewise judged from an efficiency perspective, that is, whether the program was delivered in a cost-effective and timely manner, and generated value for money. It also considers the capacity of executing agencies that may contribute to start up and implementation delays, and cost overruns.

Another critical element of IED's evaluation is the likely sustainability of results over the medium term, technically, financially, environmentally, socially, politically, and institutionally. Further, IED looks at how results led to development impacts. Specifically, whether ADB contributed to achieving the CPS objectives, directly through its sector programs and implementing cross-cutting agenda(s) across various modalities in different sectors and by various development partners.

IED gives special importance to cross-cutting objectives by considering how the cross-sectoral and thematic objectives of the CPS are articulated in the results framework and provided with appropriate indicators and targets; and how the program achieved the cross-sector thematic results. Equal weights are given to the achievement of sector and cross-cutting objectives in the relevance and development impact assessments, in both country assistance program evaluations (CAPEs) and CPS final review validations (CPSFRVs). This aligns with ADB's increasing emphasis on achieving corporate strategic priorities.

In preparing its country evaluations and validations, IED conducts document reviews, consults with concerned departments, staff, governments and other stakeholders, and undertakes evaluation missions. IED has put in place a quality assurance system to ensure consistent application of its 2015 guidelines. In CPSFRVs, IED's primary focus is to validate the evidence presented in the CPS Final Review.