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China in Africa: The Real Story

Two New Papers on Chinese Aid in Africa

Deborah Brautigam

Here are links to two new papers of mine on Chinese aid published this month:

(1) Deborah Brautigam, "Chinese Development Aid in Africa: What, Where, Why and How Much?" China Update 2011, eds. Jane Golley and Ligang Song, Canberra: Australia National University, 2011.
Abstract: China’s development aid to Africa has increased rapidly, yet this might be the only fact on which we have widespread agreement when it comes to Chinese aid. Analysts disagree about the nature of China’s official development aid, the countries that are its main recipients, the reasons for providing aid, the quantity of official aid, and its impact. Why does this matter? Knowing more about Chinese development aid is important for understanding Chinese foreign policy and economic statecraft: how and to what ends does China use its government policy tools? It is also important for more accurate comparisons between Chinese practices and those of other donors and providers of finance. Finally, for those who are interested in the question of whether, as it rises, China will transform, reform or maintain the existing system of norms and rules (Kim 1999), development aid provides a particularly interesting case study. The rules and norms about foreign aid have been forged not by a global institution, but primarily by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—a group of countries of which China is not a part. To answer questions about China’s impact on these rules and norms, we need to have a sound idea of what China is actually doing as a donor.
(2) Deborah Brautigam, "Aid 'With Chinese Characteristics': Chinese Aid and Development Finance Meet the OECD-DAC Regime," in Journal of International Development, v. 23, n. 5, July 2011.
Abstract: China's official aid programme is non-transparent and poorly understood. The paper compares development finance from China and the Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) generally and through the examination of two cases of Chinese development cooperation in Africa. These cases illustrate a major argument of the paper: that the lion's share of China's officially supported finance is not actually official development assistance (ODA). China does provide finance that meets the definition of ODA, but this is relatively small. Export credits, non-concessional state loans or aid used to foster Chinese investment do not fall into the category of ODA. China's cooperation may be developmental, but it is not primarily based on official development aid. This suggests that the institutions established at the OECD to develop and apply standards for foreign aid (the Development Assistance Committee) may not be the right ones to govern these growing ties.