Quartz — China is on a mission to modernize African farming and find new markets for its own companies
Here, at the China-Rwanda ATDC, Chinese agronomists teach local farmers the hidden benefits of mushrooms. They grow quickly, even in bad soil, and don't take a lot of room. They pack in protein and other nutrients. At the end of five days of training, the students take a cooking class where they learn how to make things like a salad of mushroom paired with carrots and cucumber, or how to stew mushrooms in tea.
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.