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18.12.2018 - China’s development policy: no evidence of ʻrogue aid’

China is often accused of buying access to valuable resources and supporting autocratic governments with its development aid. In 2007, a journalist from the New York Times coined the term ʻrogue aid’ to describe this approach. However, according to the conclusions reached by Professor Andreas Fuchs in his presentation to DEval on ʻChina’s development cooperation and its consequences’, there is no evidence to support these allegations.

China’s award decisions may be influenced by political and economic interests, but that is no different to most Western donor countries, says Fuchs. Overall, China’s reasons for awarding development aid are similar to those of most OECD-DAC donor countries: as well as by political and economic self-interest, it is mainly motivated by the needs of recipients. One thing that does not factor into China’s award decisions, Fuchs notes, is the rewarding of democratic institutions in recipient countries. However, he concludes that there is no evidence of China providing targeted support for undemocratic regimes through development aid, as often alleged.

The lack of transparency makes it more difficult to analyse the consequences and secondary effects of Chinese development aid. China does not publish figures on its development projects and is ranked last in the Aid Transparency Index. The database of US research institute AidData contains all publicly available figures on Chinese development projects for the period from 2000 to 2014. This database aims to enable further research on the consequences and secondary effects of Chinese development cooperation.

Andreas Fuchs is a professor of environmental, climate and development economics at Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg and a professor at Kiel Institute for the World Economy. His research analyses trade, investment and development policy, with a special focus on China and other emerging economies.

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