For foreign observers, Chinese foreign aid is a surprisingly difficult area to study and understand. This is not just because China does not follow the traditional OECD definition of foreign aid. But more importantly, it is due to the fact that foreign aid data is as tightly guarded as state secrets by China, and country-specific information, such as the volume, the purpose, the priorities and the terms of foreign aid, all remains in a tight black box. In liberal democratic countries, government budgets, including foreign aid spending, are subject to clear, mandated legislative supervision and public monitoring. Furthermore, there is a prevailing belief that foreign aid is a useful/effective tool to promote a positive image of the donor country, therefore aid is often exhaustively promoted. The combined effect of this is that many westerners find China’s secrecy perplexing.
This article was originally published by China-US Focus on October 25, 2017. Read the full article here.