Xiaoyun Li, Dan Banik, Lixia Tang and Jin Wu: Difference or Indifference: China’s Development Assistance Unpacked

Published in IDS Bulletin special Issue: China and International Development: Challenges and opportunities, Editors Jing Gu, Xiaoyun Li, Gerald Bloom and Xiulan Zhang


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Cover: IDS Bulletin


China's growing role in international development through so-called ‘South–South cooperation’ has attracted considerable global attention.

This article aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the nature of foreign aid policies implemented by China and help facilitate a new set of dialogues between China and more established providers of aid. It unpacks the developmental side of the story by first analysing the official discourse of Chinese aid in a historical context and thereafter examines the practice of conditional aid in relation to the Chinese emphasis on non-interference and mutual interest.

The empirical basis for this article is largely derived from field studies undertaken in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. We argue that although centrally controlled, Chinese aid has been consistently developmental, reflecting both the country's own development path and, to a lesser extent, international developmental goals.


Published Sep. 16, 2014 1:40 PM - Last modified Nov. 9, 2015 12:28 PM