China's Foreign Aid – In Praise of China

China’s Foreign Aid

China's Foreign Aid in Africa.  

Most articles in our media, if they talk about China's development assistance to Africa at all, have only horror stories to tell.

If we can't say something nice about China, let's not say anything at all. It's a developing nation whose people's average income last year was still below

Romania $954
Bahrain $917
Panama $831
Mauritius $783
Brazil $778
Macau $758
Kazakhstan $753
Bulgaria $750
Colombia $692.

Despite its relative poverty it pulled 700,000,000 of its own people out of misery and single-handedly accounted for 90% of the UN's Millennium Poverty Reduction goals. 

And even though Chinese are relatively poor they've lent a trillion dollars to people poorer than themselves. Instead of allowing that money to seep into the pockets of the recipient governments, they built railroads and ports and highways and hospitals.

That benefit has become so obvious that the world's leading authority on African FDI, Dambisa Moyo (herself the recipient, scholar and, now, donor of  foreign aid to African countries), says that Chinese foreign aid has done more good for Africa in the past ten years than Western foreign aid in a hundred. That's a 10x improvement.  

Eventually, deeds do speak louder than words. It might take another ten years of good deeds and bad words, but then stories like this will be so obviously out of character for China they'll sound like childish, bitter-fruit, attempts to defame a developing country that's doing more than its share for its poorer brethren. 

When Western nations refuse real aid to a poor country (aid that makes an immediate, visible improvement in the lives of all the people in the developing nation and produces no side-benefits for its ruling elite) then political violence increases. If Western nations meddle in the internal affairs of an already-poor nation and support an unpopular tyrant or overthrow a tolerable one, that country’s vulnerabilities and suffering are multiplied. Haiti is a grotesque example of such cruelty. When Western nations refuse to aid a poor country they are often working actively to help out "rebels" there, in furtherance of imperialistic designs. 

But there's one super power that doesn't play that game. And that’s when those suffering nations hear a distant bugle. That’s when Chinese aid rides to the rescue. 

We don’t hear much about what happens next but we should: the new train line gets built and the port starts functioning in 28 months. Back-country farmers, often in the most productive land, get their crops to the capital overnight. To Paris in 48 hours. Farmers start buying stuff and we know the rest of the story.

China has been replicating, or attempting to replicate, this story in every developing country on earth. OBOR is a ‘coming out’, a brand, for their entire development program linking on land and sea in both directions with arteries that allow goods to flow, at low cost, between and across Africa and Eurasia.

Xi and Li have been on the road 3 days a week for the past two years promoting this. Handshakes are all that’s needed. Everyone knows the Chinese are good for the money. The Hungarian and the Serbian presidents know their projects come in on time and within budget and produce the projected downstream revenues to cover the bonds. That’s why the queen of England toured London with Xi in a gilded carriage. England wants to get some of that finger-lickin' Chinese development money. And engineering expertise, incidentally. 

Xi Jinping aid

Xi Jinping aid

Our sour-grapes media aims to undermine or denigrate such real and potential successes, but eventually stories like the Post's will no longer be credible.

It might take ten years but, by the time our media wakes up in China will have developed more half the world – like its own 700,000,000 poor – it will be too late for us. By the end of 2015 our wages will have been stagnant for 40 years. What’s another ten?

The amazing thing is that China's making money on the deal. They're selling equipment, expertise, and finance made affordable because it's so tightly integrated into the deal that its secure. China has trillions of such dollars and is happy to put them to work at a near-guaranteed 3%. 

Here's Professor Deborah Brautigam's excellent blog and books on China's aid in Africa.

What do YOU think?

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