Chinese Development Finance Program

Program Overview

Chinese Development Finance

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China has dramatically expanded its overseas development finance program  and established itself as a financier of first resort for many low- and middle-income countries. But Chinese donors and lenders rarely disclose the specific terms and conditions or  implementation arrangements that govern their overseas development projects.

This knowledge gap makes it challenging for analysts to understand the social, economic, and environmental implications of Chinese development finance. It is also a major obstacle to evidence-based policymaking.

AidData seeks to address this problem by systematically tracking the universe of Chinese government-financed development projects and rigorously categorizing them according to established international aid reporting standards. This approach makes it possible to answer a wide range of research and policy questions about the scale, composition, aims, and impacts of Chinese development finance:

  • Which countries and sectors are receiving the most—and least—Chinese development finance? How has the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) influenced Beijing’s overseas lending and grant-giving activities??
  • How are these projects being financed and which countries have the highest levels of sovereign and hidden debt exposure to China?
  • Which Chinese and host country organizations are responsible for implementing these projects?
  • What types of problems do Chinese development projects most and least frequently encounter during implementation? Corruption scandals, labor strikes, environmental disasters, defaults, bankruptcies, or public protests?
  • Do Chinese development projects fare better or worse when they are undertaken by Chinese versus host country organizations?
  • How have Chinese government-financed power plants affected economic development and human health outcomes in geographically proximate areas?

Featured Publications

How China Lends: A Rare Look into 100 Debt Contracts with Foreign Governments

Anna Gelpern, Sebastian Horn, Scott Morris, Brad Parks, Christoph Trebesch



Tracking Chinese Development Finance: An Application of AidData’s TUFF 2.0 Methodology

Samantha Custer, Axel Dreher, Thai-Binh Elston, Andreas Fuchs, Siddharta Ghose, Joyce Jiahui Lin, Ammar A. Malik, Bradley C. Parks, Brooke Russell, Kyra Solomon, Austin Strange, Michael J. Tierney, Katherine Walsh, Lincoln Zaleski, and Sheng Zhang


Bargaining with Beijing: A Tale of Two Borrowers

Alysha Gardner, Joyce Lin, Scott Morris, Bradley Parks


Program Team

For technical or research inquires, contact:

Ammar A. Malik

Senior Research Scientist

China Development Finance

Brooke Russell

Associate Director, Chinese Development Finance Program

Policy Analysis

Brook Lautenslager

Software Lead

China Development Finance

Katherine Walsh

Program Manager

China Development Finance

Kyra Solomon

Junior Program Manager

China Development Finance

Sheng Zhang

Junior Program Manager

China Development Finance

Thai-Binh Elston

Junior Program Manager

Gates Foundation
MacArthur Foundation
Ministry of Education of Singapore
William & Mary

Alex Wooley

Director of Partnerships and Communications

Featured China Research