China challenges US in aid to Africa

A new study shows that China has spent 75 billion dollars (57 billion euros) on foreign aid to Africa in the past decade. According to the Centre for Global Development, a Washington-based NGO, and researchers at AidData, Beijing launched more than 1,600 projects in Africa. China does not publish its foreign aid figures. But researchers say that the Chinese are sending almost as much money to Africa as the Americans are.




Chinese “aid” is a lightning rod for criticism. Policy-makers, journalists, and public intellectuals claim that Beijing uses its largesse to cement alliances with political leaders, secure access to natural resources, and create exclusive commercial opportunities for Chinese firms—all at the expense of citizens living in developing countries. We argue that much of the controversy about Chinese “aid” stems from a failure to distinguish between China's Official Development Assistance (ODA) and more commercially oriented sources and types of state financing. Using a new database on China's official financing commitments to Africa from 2000 to 2013, we find that the allocation of Chinese ODA is driven primarily by foreign policy considerations, while economic interests better explain the distribution of less concessional flows. These results highlight the need for better measures of an increasingly diverse set of non-Western financial activities.

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