Directly to content
  1. Publishing |
  2. Search |
  3. Browse |
  4. Recent items rss |
  5. Open Access |
  6. Jur. Issues |
  7. DeutschClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Becoming a Donor: National Role Conception, Reform Dynamics and Learning in China’s Foreign Aid System

Rudyak, Marina

[thumbnail of Rudyak_ChineseAid_2020.pdf]
PDF, English
Download (12MB) | Terms of use

Citation of documents: Please do not cite the URL that is displayed in your browser location input, instead use the DOI, URN or the persistent URL below, as we can guarantee their long-time accessibility.


This thesis consists of five chapters: the first three deal with the evolution of Chinese foreign aid from its inception to the publishing of China’s first foreign aid White Paper in 2011; the two remaining chapters are reform case studies taking us up to the present. Chapter 1, “Relational Foreign Aid: Tracing the Origins of the Chinese Aid Thinking”, traces the origins of the concepts that are considered basic principles of China’s foreign aid today and explains when and in which context they were formulated first. Furthermore, the chapter suggests that China’s early foreign aid was likely influenced by interactions between the Chinese Communists and the representatives of the United States in China. It shows, in particular, how the Communists’ attempts to obtain economic assistance from the U.S. and the U.S.’s denial of ideological grounds on ideological grounds appear to have shaped the principle of political non-interference. Finally, chapter 1 argues that Chinese foreign aid was relational, in the sense of trying to find “common interests” (gongtong liyi 共同利益) in order to create relational power and overcome the international isolation China was faced with after 1949, and claim the China seat from the Republic of China (on Taiwan) in the United Nations General Assembly. Drawing on the Relational Theory of world politics, proposed by Qin Yaqing’s 秦亚青 (2018), it analyses how foreign aid was linked to constructed common interest of building economic independence, which China saw as a precondition for political independence. In the process, this chapter challenges several dominant assumptions: first, that foreign aid was dominated by Mao Zedong and driven by ideology, and second, that Chinese aid was “merely an extension of Soviet aid”. Chapter 2, “The Long March to “Win-Win”: Assembling Chinese Foreign Aid Thinking”, continues my historical enquiry and fills a gap that has been largely neglected in the research on Chinese foreign aid: the years between 1978 and 1995. It zooms in on government-linked foreign aid discourses and argues that the major foreign aid reform of 1995, namely the introduction of foreign aid concessional loans (对外援助优惠贷款) managed by the newly set-up China Exim Bank, were the outcome of a reform process, that started in 1979. Thereby, the chapter first debunks the assumptions that foreign aid lost its importance with the new leadership, often found in the literature on Chinese aid. It shows that, quite to the contrary, it was in 1979 (at least according to known documents) that foreign aid was explicitly called a strategic foreign policy tool, which was indispensable to secure a stable international environment for China’s modernisation policy. It argues that the new “Four Principles of Economic and Technical Co-operation” (Jingji jishu hezuo de si xiang yuanze经济技术合作的四项原则), whose emphasis on “co-operation” was perceived by many as a departure from aid, in fact, represented an attempt to strike a delicate balance between finding ways to maintain good relations with recipients and to promote China’s own economic development. Second, this chapter uses primary and secondary source material to show that the shift away from aid toward economic co-operation-which China’s government had indeed sought and which works on Chinese aid or Sino-African relations repeatedly described as having occurred in the early 1980s-essentially did not take place. This happened only after China faced a new crisis: the Tian’anmen square protests, which ended with a violent crackdown and led to sanctions imposed by Western countries. It was then perceived as necessary to significantly increase aid to developing countries in order to ensure their political support – and this, in turn, led to the creation of foreign aid concessional loans as a new mode of aid delivery. Finally, the chapter argues that in order to understand the thinking and action logic behind Chinese foreign aid today, one has to understand the assemblage of Chinese concessional loans. Chapter 3, “Chinese Aid Meets the West – Tracing (Hidden) Reform Debates”, discusses how contrary to widespread assumptions in the West that behind Chinese aid there was a clearly defined strategy, the Chinese aid system was (and in fact, still is) characterised by policy experimentation. As argued by Sebastian Heilmann (2018, 111), policy experimentation has been an asset and the key to the adaptability of China’s political economy, allowing this authoritarian regime to find innovative solutions to long-standing or newly emerging challenges. Yet, in foreign aid policy experimentation has created a system that is described as highly complex, fragmented and ineffective by its stakeholders. The chapter follows a foreign aid reform debate that started in 2010 – and initiated a reform process that is still ongoing. Although this debate addressed many of the concerns DAC donors voiced towards Chinese aid after 2005, it remained “hidden” because it was conducted almost exclusively in Chinese. The chapter concludes by analysing the first visible outcome of this (hidden) reform debate: the White Paper on China’s Foreign Aid which was published in 2011 and spelt out the official master narrative for Chinese foreign aid for the first time in the history of Chinese aid. Chapter 4, “Reform of the Foreign Aid Administration” and Chapter 5, “Credit Risk Management Regulations for Chinese Policy Banks”, introduce two reform case studies: The first case study deals with the introduction of the first comprehensive legal document on foreign aid, the “Measures for the Administration of Foreign Aid” in 2014 (MOFCOM 2014b), and the establishment of the new foreign aid agency China Internationa Development Co-operation Agency (CIDCA) in 2018, which replaced the Ministry of Commerce as the lead administration actor for foreign aid. The second case study deals with the introduction of new credit risk management regulations for China’s two policy banks, China Development Bank (CDB) 国家开发银行 and China Export-Import (Exim) Bank 中国进出口银行, which issue Chinese government loans to developing countries: the “Measures for the Supervision and Administration” (Jiandu guanli banfa 监督管理办法), issued in November 2017. The function of the case studies is not only to analyse the legal documents and legal processes at the centre of both reforms. Rather, they serve as exemplary cases of how major reforms, which addressed aspects of Chinese aid that have been hotly debated in the West, went completely unnoticed because the related information was available only in Chinese. Furthermore, the case studies are also methodological suggestions on how to trace reforms as they unfold. The thesis concludes with five arguments: China’s foreign aid is relational; it is based on policy experimentation; it is guided by historical memory, which is in part responsible for the fact that China’s foreign aid is an externalisation of China’s domestic modernisation policy; China’s foreign aid is not a China story but a global story, it is embedded in a global context and has been directly or indirectly shaped by global shifts.

Document type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Mittler, Prof. Dr. Barbara
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 29 April 2020
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2022 09:17
Date: 2022
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Institut für Sinologie
DDC-classification: 300 Social sciences
320 Political science
950 General history of Asia Far East
Controlled Keywords: Chinese Aid, Development Cooperation, International Relations, Chinese Foreign Policy, International Development
About | FAQ | Contact | Imprint |
OA-LogoDINI certificate 2013Logo der Open-Archives-Initiative