Tuesday, September 22, 2009

China Plays By Its Rules

Very interesting piece about China's foreign assistance policy. First, the (dare I say it?) money quote:
We know more about China’s military expenditures than we do about its foreign aid,” said David Shambaugh, an author and China scholar at George Washington University. “Foreign aid really is a glaring contradiction to the broader trend of China’s adherence to international norms. It is so strikingly opaque it really makes one wonder what they are trying to hide.”
The piece talks about how much of China's foreign aid is tied to the purchase of Chinese goods (so far it sounds like anybody else's aid) from companies owned or tied to China's politicians (oops!). Learning from the Bush Administration (Haliburton and Iraq), the Chinese refuse to let third world countries set up competitive bidding processes. Plus there seems to be a systematic effort to hide everything about these programs, raising red (oops) flags.

The question I ask is: how much of this is really that different from Western practices or at least Western practices of 10/20/30 years ago? Is this really different than how the US facilitated the penetration of multinational corporations into the third world? Maybe, but perhaps more of degree rather than magnitude. I am no expert on foreign direct investment, so I await Dan Drezner's take on this. Or any of my readers....

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