Whose aid. Whose influence.
China, emerging donors and the silent
revolution in development assistance
International Affairs 84: 6 (2008) 1000–1000
© 2008 The Author(s). Journal Compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/The Royal Institute of International Affairs
The world of development assistance is being shaken by the power shift occurring
across the global economy. Emerging economies are quietly beginning to change
the rules of the game. China, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Korea,
Venezuela, India, Kuwait and Brazil, among others, have been increasing their aid
to poorer countries. They are giving aid on terms of their choosing. None of these
countries belong to the donors’ club established within the OECD, called the OECD
Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Conservative estimates suggest that
the official development assistance provided by some of these countries will at least
double to a little over $1 billion by 2010.
Others have estimated that non-DAC
donors’ disbursements were already around US$8.5 billion in 2006.
At the head
of this group of emerging donors is China, combining loans, credits and debt
write-offs with special trade arrangements and commercial investments. Common
to most of these donors is a quest for energy security, enlarged trading opportuni-
ties and new economic partnerships, coupled with rapidly growing strength and
size in the global economy. As these emerging powers build aid programmes and
forge stronger relationships with poor countries, no existing development assis-
tance programme will be immune from the effects. This article analyses the likely
consequences for aid, multilateral institutions and conditionality.
The term ‘emerging donors’ is used as a shorthand to contrast these states with
OECD DAC members, who are also referred to here as ‘established donors’.
worth emphasizing that although they are often labelled ‘new donors’ most of the
emerging donors are not in fact ‘new’ to development assistance. For example, it
* I am grateful to the International Development Research Center for funding this research. I would like to
acknowledge the excellent research assistance of Joanna Langille, Jake Benford and Robert Wood, and the
extremely useful comments of Bruno Versailles, Rosemary Foot, Rohinton Medhora, Brent Herbert-Copley,
Bruce Currie-Alder and the anonymous reviewers for International Affairs.
IMF/World Bank, ‘Applying the debt sustainability framework for low-income countries post debt relief ’,
IMF Staff Report, 6 Nov. 2006 (Washington DC: IMF, 2006); Helmut Reisen, Is China actually helping improve
debt sustainability in Africa. (Paris: OECD Development Centre, July 2007).
Matthew Martin and Jonathan Stever, ‘Key challenges facing global development cooperation’, discussion
paper prepared for launch of Development Cooperation Forum (London: Debt Relief International, 2007).
The OECD DAC’s 23 existing members are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Commission of the European
Communities. Against a background of enlarging OECD membership, negotiations are currently under way
to bring into the DAC Chile, Israel, Estonia, Russia and Slovenia.