Database reveals extent of China's aid to Africa

WASHINGTON: China committed more than $75 billion to Africa over the past decade, coming close to the level of U.S. aid, though the nature of Beijing's support was far different, a study said Monday. The database released by the Center for Global Development aims to be the most comprehensive account yet of foreign assistance by China, which has faced criticism in the West by countries suspicious of Beijing's motives. The report found that China committed $75.4 billion to Africa from 2000 to 2011, just under the $90 billion by the U.S. and representing about one-fifth of the total from all major donor nations.

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Abstract

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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