China’s Foreign Aid

On April 22, China issued a white paper presenting an overall picture of its foreign aid activities over the past few decades. This is the first time China has issued a White Paper on Foreign Aid. The document provides transparency for the nation’s policy on the subject, which has been at the center of several misunderstandings over the years.

More than 256 billion yuan in aid had been given by China to 161 countries and more than 30 international and regional organizations by the end of 2009. Recipients were mainly developing countries, with Asia and Africa accounting for 80 percent of the total. Funds were mainly directed to the agricultural sector, infrastructure, public facilities, education and health care.

China’s foreign aid activities can be described as “South-South Cooperation” and “Mutual Help between Developing Countries”. For example, China’s growing foreign aid plays a critical role in enhancing China-Africa ties. It is quite popular with African countries and has substantially improved the livelihood of local people. Enhanced ties among developing countries can provide solutions to many existing problems in the current world economic system, and may create a better global economic order. In sharing experiences and striving for better cooperation among developing countries, China is helping foster a more stable economic development for the world.

However, Some in Africa say many Chinese projects benefit local people little, with materials and even labour imported directly from China. Moreover, China’s close links with oil-rich African states, including Sudan and Angola, have fuelled criticism as well that Beijing only cultivates relations to secure access to energy and raw materials to power its surging economy. Responded to those critiques, Vice Commerce Minister Fu Ziying says China provides foreign aid based on friendship. For example, China also helps countries with no discernable natural resources, like Mali.

Being the world’s second largest economy, China will shoulder more global responsibility and its foreign aid is expected to continue to increase. However, China’s assistance to foreign countries should be set within “an appropriate extent” and coordinate with its ability.

Edited by Wuyue

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