Conference spurs discussion on Chinese foreign aid

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On March 25, the “Beijing Cultural Review” and Nandu Watch jointly sponsored a convention on the history of China’s experience with foreign aid relief. Both professor Li Xiaoyun from China Agricultural University and Wang Xingzui, the executive vice president of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, shared their opinions and experiences concerning foreign aid with the audience.

Talking about the philosophical and theoretical differences between China and the western countries, Li Xiaoyun claimed that “foreign aid in western nations is the result of competitive politics”. He added that people in the West are afflicted with an urge to save those in other nations, whereas China views the welfare of another society as that country’s own responsibility. Western societies are rooted in Christianity, which fosters a notion of universal salvation, therefore creating an aptitude for foreign aid. Meanwhile, Chinese society values reciprocity, using the movement of resources between nations and a focus on the interpersonal side to mould its attitude towards foreign aid. From an economic standpoint, China adheres to an “exchange of benefits” principle, transforming “ceremonial rights” into profit.

Li Xiaoyun summarizes China’s experience with foreign aid as “having already attained maximized and optimized results.” China’s development experience has already entered a stage of localized foreign aid, reproducing and localizing the Chinese model across different countries. The dynamic relationship between China and aid recipient nations is rooted in domestic politics and economic benefit; while in practical interactions, it is moulding the processes of reproduction and localization of China’s development.

Wang Xingzui, on the other hand, explained that the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation is a pioneer in foreign aid with projects all over Asia and Africa, specializing in education, medical treatment, poverty alleviation and disaster relief. Cooperation between social organizations and government officials is capable of gaining the world’s approval, while also improving China’s international image. A good example of this is China’s aid to Nepal after the 2015 earthquake, which increased Nepal’s recognition and approval of China. Chinese social organizations however still face many obstacles such as policy and legal deficiencies, a lack of overseas office functions, inadequate consultation services, and personal inadequacies.

During interactive activities at the conference, the audience was able to learn about the applicability of overseas aid, financial aid strategies and overseas aid management agencies from the speakers. In the round of debate that followed, the chief editor of the Beijing Cultural Review added that “foreign aid needs to take control of capital and business, while China heads towards and fuses with the world.”