In the years past, China and Taiwan have engaged in an international bidding war, using foreign aid to buy the recipients’ diplomatic recognition of either regime as the “true China”. With Beijing’s growing prosperity, Taipei has pretty much lost that fight, which now allows the Chinese communist (or Marketist-Leninist) government to be more strategic about their overseas development assistance:
A new interactive map has revealed China’s presence in the Pacific region and how much its aid funding has changed.
The Lowy Institute will today launch its interactive Pacific Aid Map that shows how much foreign aid the region is receiving…
While the map shows Australia continues to dominate the Pacific region in terms of aid, China’s commitment to the area could soon match Australia’s thanks to a huge jump in 2017.
Data for 2017 and 2018 are not complete, but preliminary figures show China committed to a huge $3.5 billion project in 2017 in Papua New Guinea for a high priority economic road project.
The project brings up its overall commitment in the region since 2011 to a total of $5.88 billion, compared to Australia’s commitment of $6.72 billion.
The way Beijing likes to operate in the aid sphere nowadays is by extending generous loans, which is catnip for developing countries, as Western donors and international institutions are increasingly unlikely to grant or lend funds for large-scale, prestige-style projects with limited or non-existent business cases. Once a recipient country is up to its eyeballs in debt to China and has problems servicing the loans, China offers concessions in exchange for assuming ownership or at least control of major infrastructure assets like airports, ports, railways, or natural resources. Partly this way Beijing is able to weave its new network of overseas outposts to facilitate and guard its overland and maritime transport routes for energy imports and manufacturing exports as well as for expanding its political, military and cultural influence. This has been taking place not just throughout the Pacific, but also Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
You can check out the interactive aid map here.