July 21st, 2012 | Global Times Providing foreign aid a way to survive
Rumors have spiraled in recent days that China’s foreign ministry just declared a debt exemption of $95 billion for China-friendly foreign countries, sparking criticism online. Though this has proved to be an unsubstantiated allegation, it demonstrates yet again how China’s policy of providing international aid is misconceived by the public.
As the world’s second largest economy, China provides aid to the world’s least developed nations in a variety of forms, including material supplies, loans, and tariff and debt exemptions. While foreign aid is often interpreted by Western politicians as schemes to seal preferential energy deals, critics in China tend to stress the fact that millions of Chinese people still live in poverty.
Sadly, the depiction of China as a calculating factory owner squeezing oil from Africa counters the record of China’s devotion to friendship among formerly oppressed nations. China’s assistance to Third World countries in the 1950s and 60s when demand for imported energy was low reflected the ideal that undeveloped nations must help each other in a world system unfavorable to latecomers. Such ideals have not died.
From a more pragmatic perspective, it’s in line with China’s interests to aid poorer nations. Reducing the burden of debt contributes to the development of those countries, which will become growing markets for Chinese products.
In an increasingly globalized world, dependence on imported resources is common. China’s economy is dependent on energy resources and raw materials from other countries, but the way China feeds its development has been and will continue to be reciprocal. Domestic critics must realize that it will be unimaginable if one day there are no raw materials to feed the factories or no gas to fuel the millions of cars on the streets. This will cost China’s newfound prosperity and eventually its people’s livelihood.
As an emerging power, China meets unprecedented difficulties in the international political arena. Restrictions come from existent powers that seek to maintain the established world order. However, unlike previous powers who achieved their status by waging wars, China chooses to make friends. China must maintain good relations with developing countries so as to diversify the source of international assistance.
Providing aid to foreign countries isn’t a cause of domestic problems. China has relatively big State assets, so providing foreign aid doesn’t burden the government and won’t affect domestic expenditure.
Authorities should provide greater transparency in the decision-making process of providing foreign aid and welcome public supervision. This is the best approach to quashing doubts.