Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
La Cina sta sviluppando una rete di relazioni internazionali del tutto impensate ed impensabili per gli occidentali. Ciò che sta costruendo con paziente lungimiranza è un qualcosa che sfugge gli schemi della logica occidentale o, almeno, degli attuali governanti dell’Occidente.
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«The vast majority (93%) of US financial aid fits under the traditional definition of aid that’s agreed upon by all Western industrialised countries. That aid is given with the main goal of developing the economic development and welfare of recipient countries. At least a quarter of that money represents a direct grant, not a loan that needs to be repaid.»
«In contrast, only a small portion (21%) of the money that China gives to other countries can be considered as traditional aid. And the rest of that money? The “lion’s share” of that money is given in commercial loans that have to be repaid to Beijing with interest. “China wants to get attractive economic returns on its capital,”»
«There is evidence that China’s no-strings loans have had an effect on the entire global lending system, forcing traditional donors to stop placing so many requirements on receiving countries. Using AidData’s database, economist Diego Hernandez revealed that China’s role as a major lender has boosted competition between traditional donors.»
«”When an African country is also assisted by China,” he writes, “the World Bank provides fewer conditions attached to its loans”. For every 1% increase in Chinese aid, Hernandez found the World Bank lessened its typical demands for things like market liberalisation or economic transparency by 15%.»
«Critics have long charged that “rogue aid” from China allows some countries to avoid democratic reforms because they can simply turn to China for aid, dodging the scrutiny of traditional Western donors.»
«Cambodia is a recent example; independent newspapers and western NGOs have been shuttered, as Cambodian leaders’ strengthening ties with China embolden them to turn away from Washington’s demands to hold fair elections.»
«Xiaojun Li studied how Chinese aid has changed countries in Africa, arguing that democratic reforms have slowed as the developing countries concluded they could bypass the political demands of Western donors by turning to Chinese aid.»
Cerchiamo di operare una rapida sintesi.
«There is evidence that China’s no-strings loans have had an effect on the entire global lending system, forcing traditional donors to stop placing so many requirements on receiving countries»
– La Cina persegue una politica estera di rapporti bilaterali paritetici, ove le due parti ritengono la propria identità, usi e costumi senza interferenza alcuna, mentre il terreno collaborativo è quello economico. Nel converso, l’Occidente ammette alle relazioni estere solo quegli stati che si impegnano a condividerne i valori. Senza condivisione dei valori etici, morali e politici occidentali non sono concessi fondi di finanziamento.
– L’Occidente eroga fondi in gran parte tramite organizzazioni internazionali, mentre la Cina finanzia in proprio e per il 79% nella forma di prestiti. Mentre i fondi occidentali sono per lo più fondi di gestione, i prestiti erogati dai cinesi sono finalizzati ad investimenti produttivi: questi generano quindi reddito locale, permettono l’ammortamento dell’investimento e la resa finale del prestito. Sono presiti sui quali si richiedono interessi perché sono investimenti produttivi, che alla fine restano di proprietà del paese aiutato.
– Mentre l’Occidente non si è mai curato di finanziare infrastrutture, se non in quota trascurabile, i cinesi prediligono questa tipologia di investimento: il progetto Belt and Road, Obor, è un classico esempio. Il progetto Obor coinvolge paesi per un terzo del pil mondiale e le infrastrutture, strade ferrate, strade, acquedotti, centrali elettriche e così via sono elementi basilari per ogni possibile sviluppo economico.
Le differenze tra Occidente ed Oriente in questo settore sono evidenti e stridenti.
Nulla da stupirsi che l’approccio cinese surclassi quello occidentale e si sia conquistato il mondo. Per correr dietro le proprie ubbie, l’Occidente ha regalato il mondo alla Cina.
→ Abc News. 2017-10-11. Report: China catching up to US in foreign aid flow.
Attention to Chinese financing has increased as Beijing promotes its “Belt and Road Initiative,” a multibillion-dollar initiative to expand China’s trade links with Asia, Africa and the Middle East by building ports, roads and other facilities.
About 23 percent of Chinese spending met the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s definition of aid, or “official development assistance,” which requires at least 25 percent of a transfer to be a grant. By contrast, 93 percent of U.S. spending qualifies as aid.
The bulk of Beijing’s financing appears to be export credits and other measures aimed at promoting Chinese exports or other goals, which produced little measurable growth in recipient economies, according to Parks. He said such “official finance” doesn’t count as development assistance but is part of the OECD’s broader definition of aid.
“The lion’s share of the portfolio is really not delivering, at least on average, any significant economic growth benefits for its partner countries,” said Parks.
That leaves Beijing room to have a positive impact by shifting spending to development assistance, he said.
“There still is a lot of scope for them to learn and adapt,” said Parks.
The portion of Chinese financing that qualifies as aid “substantially improves economic growth,” according to the report. It said results were comparable to the impact of U.S.- and other Western-financed projects.
“I thought that was a pretty important finding and an encouraging one,” said Parks.
The 5-year-old project used a computerized system to look for information from more than 15,000 sources including news reports, Chinese government offices, ministries of other countries and academic reports. Its data cover 4,304 projects in 138 countries and territories.
China doesn’t participate in global aid reporting systems. It released some figures in 2011 and 2014 but gave few details and none about individual countries.
AidData released its first report in 2013 focusing on Chinese financing to Africa. Parks said its data have been used by other scholars to launch more than 100 research projects.
“AidData is the most comprehensive source of information on China’s lending for development projects,” said David Dollar, an economist at the Brookings Institution in Washington and former World Bank country director in Beijing, in an email.
“The data show that China’s lending is indiscriminate with respect to governance. Some big borrowers have poor rule of law, such as Venezuela, Angola and Pakistan,” Dollar wrote. “The overall pattern of lending indicates that it is demand-driven by which countries want to borrow rather than by a Chinese master plan.”
Parks said the data show more Chinese finance goes to countries that vote with Beijing at the United Nations. He said that “might not look good,” but a similar analysis of U.S. and other Western donors shows they act the same way.
“In a sense, Beijing has taken a page out of the playbook of traditional Western donors,” said Parks. “That doesn’t comport with the ‘rogue donor’ narrative that China is somehow inferior or different.”
Parks said the project didn’t try to measure whether Chinese aid undercuts environmental or other standards by giving an alternative to more stringent conditions on Western aid.
But a separate study published this year by researcher Diego Hernandez of Heidelberg found the World Bank attached “significantly fewer conditions” to loans if recipients also had aid available from China.
“New donors might be perceived as an attractive financial option to which the World Bank reacts by offering credits less restrictively in order to remain competitive,” wrote Hernandez.
→ The Washington Post. 2017-10-11. China treats its foreign aid like a state secret. New research aims to reveal it.
Since the turn of the century, China has become an unavoidable global provider of foreign assistance, funding everything from opera houses in Algeria to tobacco farms in Zimbabwe.
Try to find in-depth data about these projects, however, and you are mostly out of luck. China treats its foreign assistance budget like a state secret, refusing to work with international bodies that try to coordinate and quantify foreign development funding. In part due to this paucity of information, a reputation has spread among Western critics that China is a “rogue donor” — one that lavishes illiberal regimes with cash to plunder raw materials for its own growth.
An ambitious new research project released this week challenges that assumption by producing the first-ever global data set on Chinese overseas development spending between 2000 and 2014. Brad Parks, the executive director of AidData, a research lab at the College of William & Mary, said it took five years for a team of nearly 100 scholars and research assistants from all over the world to piece together data from 15,000 distinct information sources covering 4,300 projects in 140 different countries and territories.
“What we’re about to release is the most comprehensive and detailed source of project information about China’s global development footprint ever,” Parks said. The end result is so unique, he said, that they’ve even had some inquiries from Chinese officials about using it.
AidData’s research offers a picture of a rising financial giant that is challenging even the biggest donor nations. China provided $354.4 billion in official funding around the world between 2000 and 2014 — not far off the amount spent by the United States in the same period, $394.6 billion. In some counties, the two nations looked like competitors, with China sometimes usurping the United States to become the preeminent donor.
The research also turns some widespread assumptions about Chinese foreign assistance on their heads. In a previously released project, AidData was able to show when you look at Chinese aid that matches the strict, internationally agreed-upon definition — official development assistance, also known as ODA — it does not appear to be motivated by acquiring natural resources or propping up Beijing-friendly authoritarians.
“China is well known for funding a number of governments with poor governance such as Venezuela, Angola, Iran, and Pakistan,” said David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was the U.S. Treasury’s economic and financial emissary to China between 2009 and 2013. “[However,] these are balanced by large amounts of lending to countries with relatively good governance: Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the East African states. China’s lending seems to be indifferent to governance.”
The data set suggests Chinese aid is instead generally motivated by two interests: the need level of the recipient country and the broader foreign policy aims of China. AidData found African countries that vote with China at the United Nations get an average bump of 86 percent in aid from Beijing.
“The criteria for China to provide foreign aid is not the nature of the government, but the convergence of interests,” said Yun Sun, an expert on Chinese funding who is with the Stimson Center in Washington. “That need could be political, commercial, or even reputational.”
AidData’s research also shows the lions share’s of China’s global development spending is not official aid but rather distributed via “other official flows,” or OOF. This bracket of funding includes huge deals, like the enormous loans given to Russian oil companies in 2009, in which the motivation is clearly commercial.
“ODA and OOF really need to be considered separately,” Park said. “If the country is rich in natural resources, if it trades a lot with China and if it is credit worthy, it tends to get a lot of OOF.” China’s widespread funding of more commercially minded projects is what sets it apart from Western donors, who have largely moved away from loans toward grants. “China is operating to its own rules,” Park said.
AidData’s research has shown when Chinese funding is similar to ODA, it boosts economic growth in recipient countries just like Western aid. If a country is on the receiving end of such a Chinese aid project, it will see 0.4 percent average growth two years after the project is committed — a similar rate of growth to aid from the United States and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (and notably higher than aid from the World Bank).
“If you just read a random sampling of media reports about Chinese development project, you will hear about individual projects where the project was reportedly a white elephant project,” Parks said. When it comes to ODA at least, “we just don’t really see any evidence. it doesn’t seem to be systematically true.”
As China enters the fourth year of its ambitious international infrastructure project, widely known as “One Belt, One Road,” understanding how it spends its money abroad will probably prove more and more important. Whether China will offer a more opaque view of its foreign assistance in the future remains unclear — experts say Beijing remains skeptical of transparency, at least in part due to a tradition of secrecy.
Austin Strange, a PhD candidate at Harvard University who worked with AidData, said numerous Chinese officials have been briefed on the project over the past five years, and at least some have professed an interest in getting better “fine-grained data” to inform their own work.
→ Bbc. 2017-10-11. China’s secret aid empire uncovered
China has a long list of state secrets – how many people it puts to death every year, and even the birthdays of its top leaders. But now, overseas researchers have uncovered another Chinese state secret: how much money Beijing gives in aid to other countries.
Not very long ago, China was a foreign aid recipient. Now, it rivals the United States as one of the world’s largest donors, through traditional development aid or through financial loans.
For the first time, a large group of researchers outside China have compiled a major database detailing virtually all of China’s financial money flow to recipient countries. Citing more than 5,000 projects found across 140 countries, it reveals that China and the US rival each other in terms of how much they offer to other countries.
However, “they spend those budgets in radically different ways. And the different compositions of those portfolios have far-reaching consequences”, explains Brad Parks, the project’s chief researcher.
He heads the AidData research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, which teamed up with other researchers at Harvard University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany to complete the research.
How did they uncover the secret?
The AidData team had to develop its own methodology to answer the questions that weren’t provided by the Chinese government. They tracked money flows from China to recipient countries using news reports, official embassy documents and aid and debt information from China’s counterparts.
Piece by painstaking piece, the information came together to draw a relatively complete picture of where Chinese aid is going and what impact it’s having.
“We think the methodology has revealed the known knowable universe,” Brad Parks says. “If the Chinese government really wants to conceal something, we won’t necessarily pick it up.” But if there are sizeable money transfers going from China to a recipient country, “word is going to get out”, he adds.
How does China hand out money?
One major finding from the study: China and the US, the world’s biggest donor, have handed out similar amounts of money in the years covered in the database, but the countries distribute that money in radically different ways.
The vast majority (93%) of US financial aid fits under the traditional definition of aid that’s agreed upon by all Western industrialised countries. That aid is given with the main goal of developing the economic development and welfare of recipient countries. At least a quarter of that money represents a direct grant, not a loan that needs to be repaid.
In contrast, only a small portion (21%) of the money that China gives to other countries can be considered as traditional aid. And the rest of that money? The “lion’s share” of that money is given in commercial loans that have to be repaid to Beijing with interest.
“China wants to get attractive economic returns on its capital,” Brad Parks explains.
And what does that money achieve?
The team’s other major finding: when China gives out traditional aid, the recipient countries reap impressive economic rewards. For a long period, there were suspicions that Chinese aid projects were only set up to benefit China; infrastructure projects built by imported Chinese workers, for instance, that did little to improve the lives of people on the ground. However, this research shows that China is just as capable of managing development aid projects as Western donors.
Which countries are getting China’s money?
Since 2000, African countries have captured a large slice of the aid and loans given by China.
However, China’s wealth is distributed to points across the globe, from hospitals in Senegal to ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 2014, the most recent year covered by AidData, Russia topped the recipient list, followed by Pakistan and Nigeria.
In contrast, the US list in 2014 was topped by Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by Pakistan.
Politics plays a big part in how both China and the US decide to spend their money. Earlier studies by the researchers behind AidData show that both Beijing and Washington tend to offer money to countries which support them at the United Nations.
But for China, economics play a key role: the AidData researchers found Beijing is often focused on promoting Chinese exports or market rate loans where China wants to get the loan repaid with interest.
The North Korea factor
China is often cited as the main source of aid propping up the fragile North Korean economy. But the AidData researchers tracked down just 17 Chinese projects in North Korea over the 14-year period, totalling a measly $210m.
Brad Parks calls North Korea “an informational black hole”, admitting that it’s the only recipient country that truly evaded the researchers. To a large extent, the vast amounts of money and other kinds of aid that China is believed to give North Korea fall outside the global financial system.
Why is China’s money so attractive?
In the 1960s to the 1990s, Western countries offered high-interest market-rate loans to developing countries. However, that strategy misfired when recipient countries could not begin to repay the interest on the debts they had acquired. Outrage ensued and the Western aid model was overhauled.
“There was a shared principle that we should not be offering market-rate loans to developing countries,” Brad Parks says. “And now, here comes China, enter stage left. They’re not part of that coalition. They haven’t been socialised to that principle and they’re very willing and able to provide loans near or at market rate.
“Increasingly, countries that don’t want to go the IMF for a bailout when they’re in trouble, they will go to China instead.”
Will China continue to loan out money?
So far, the data shows that the countries that receive China’s market-rate loans are not suffering economically, but they aren’t experiencing economic growth either. Researchers fear that could change in 10 or 15 years, when countries build up debts because they can’t repay the money they will owe to Beijing. At that point, China might have to rethink things.
“They may very well 10 years from now, or 15 years from now, encounter the same problems that Western donors and creditors encountered when loans are not getting repaid,” Brad Parks explains. “If and when that point of reckoning occurs, then perhaps Beijing will revisit how it structures these loans.”
Already, researchers have uncovered signs that China’s starting to shift its approach to lending, researcher Xiaojun Li from the University of British Columbia says. Increasingly, Beijing is lending through multilateral institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s answer to the World Bank.
Why does it matter if China becomes a big global lender?
There is evidence that China’s no-strings loans have had an effect on the entire global lending system, forcing traditional donors to stop placing so many requirements on receiving countries. Using AidData’s database, economist Diego Hernandez revealed that China’s role as a major lender has boosted competition between traditional donors.
“When an African country is also assisted by China,” he writes, “the World Bank provides fewer conditions attached to its loans”. For every 1% increase in Chinese aid, Hernandez found the World Bank lessened its typical demands for things like market liberalisation or economic transparency by 15%.