China emerging as a serious player in humanitarian aid

China is becoming a bigger player in humanitarian aid and emergency relief:
– China has demonstrated a preference to respond to natural disasters — rather than “complex emergencies” — and may concentrate its funding on just one or two major crises each year, the paper shows.
– China’s foreign aid spending was channeled to 4,300 projects in 140 countries. The top five recipients for Chinese aid were Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Cameroon.
– Less than a quarter of China’s total foreign spending of $350 billion from 2000 to 2014 was comprised of official development assistance — compared to the United States, which allocated 93 percent of its spending to ODA during this time period.
-China’s diplomatic interest in countries is considered the “most important” factor in guiding its aid, according to the ODI — a connection evidenced by the fact that African countries that vote with China at the U.N. get an average increase of 86 percent in aid, as AidData shows.
– But Beijing does also look beyond political allegiances and gains when responding to some emergencies, like the Haiti earthquake in 2011, even though the Haitian government is an ally of Taiwan, as Andreas Fuchs, a senior economics researcher at Heidelberg University’s Alfred-Weber-Institute for Economics notes.
– Adds Fuch: “The purpose of China’s aid activities and aid is to win heart, it is about its reputation and of course now the changes in the U.S. administration is understood as an opportunity to increase China’s influence. It is about promoting China’s image around the world.”
– Says Xiaoqing Boynton, a senior director at the global advisory group ASG: “I think the trajectory will continue to develop and I think China will continue to grow its aid and to grow its soft power influence in Africa, and also in places like Latin America and neighboring countries,” she said. “An area I want to watch is how China really becomes more integrated in the traditional, international donor society, with governments like the U.S. and major European donors and works to improve transparency in aid.”

[Read full Devex article]

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