In recent years, China and Taiwan have emerged as significant donors in the Asia-Pacific region. Concerns have been raised from traditional donor nations such as Australia, with both nations accused of:
- Exchanging aid funds for political and diplomatic purposes;
- A lack of cooperation with other donors;
- Operating a ‘no questions asked’ approach to aid, which fails to encourage ‘good governance’ or engage with international aid effectiveness criteria;[i]
- Beyond the Asia-Pacific, Britain has warned that China’s unconditional aid and cheap loans in Africa risks driving countries back into debt and undermines efforts to create democratic and accountable administrations.[ii] However, China has described its aid program as a “strategic partnership with Africa, featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation”.[iii] Both China and Taiwan have proved vulnerable to donor criticisms and have signalled an increased willingness toward international cooperation and away from their so-called ‘dollar diplomacy’ approach.
Criticisms from Britain, Australia and other traditional donor nations may have some merit, however they are also highly hypocritical. Most nations seek to pursue their own economic and national interests through programs of foreign aid, including the Australian government.
[i] Strings Attached: China’s Pacific aid under the spotlight’ABC News, 22nd June 2008. Online http://
www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/22/2282018.htm , Accessed 12th September 2008
[ii] The Guardian, ‘Chinese aid to Africa may do more harm than good, warns Benn’ 8th February,2007