White paper on foreign aid

China has published its first paper on foreign aid, or assistance (《中国对外援助》白皮书), in a further sign of its new policy to talk about aid specifically. The white paper is available on the website of the State News Administration (国新办).

The executive summary characterises China’s foreign aid as a form of “South-South cooperation” and claims that it constitutes a particular model of aid, although this is not defined beyond stating that it is based on “equality, mutual benefit, attention to effectiveness, moving with the times, no political conditions.”

The white paper says that, by the end of 2009, China had spent 106 billion yuan on grants-in-aid, 76 billion yuan on interest-free loans, and 74 billion yuan on concessional loans. It has also organised over 4,000 trainings in China for 120 thousand participants and dispatched 21 thousand medical personnel, including 60 teams in 2009 alone, and 10 thousand “aid teachers” (援外教师).

These are not the same as volunteers, which are discussed in a separate paragraph. According to the document, China first dispatched youth medical and teaching volunteers to Laos in 2002. By the end of 2009, it had dispatched 405 youth volunteers to 19 countries including Thailand, Ethiopia, Laos, Burma, the Seychelles, Liberia, and Guyana, with duties including teaching Chinese, practicing Chinese medicine, agricultural technical extension, computer training, and disaster assistance, as well as, through a separate channel, 7,590 volunteer Chinese teachers.

The document contains a description of the aid financing mechanism and states that the Ministry of Commerce has overall responsibility for it.

A curiosity is that Malta, an EU member, is listed among aid recipients: it benefited from the construction of a dry dock.

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