China Moving To Expand And Extend Its Global Reach
No Fear, China Is Incapable Of Using Foreign Aid To Influence Global Affairs
As nations in the West seek to refocus their finances and their interest on problems at home, some analysts fear that China will continue to raise its international presence and influence. Philippa Brant of Foreign Affairs believes those fears are overstated because (a) China’s involvement in foreign aid is limited by domestic concerns; and (b) many recipients have their own worries about China’s influence and its motives.
First and foremost, China is not transparent about their aid due to domestic politics. When more than 500 million people are mired in poverty, China has no desire to publicly voice its foreign aid program.
“It is hard for the Chinese to be open about foreign aid, especially when they are giving it to countries that may have a GDP per capita higher than China’s own,” Brant writes. A lack of transparency applies to China’s domestic politics as well as its unwillingness to comply with transparency guidelines and international norms that govern foreign aid.
“But the larger concern that some critics of Chinese aid raise — that China will replace the United States as the international donor of choice — is almost beside the point. Partner countries are often as skeptical about the motives of the Chinese as they are of Western donors. Many of the developing country leaders who initially fell under the spell of Chinese generosity are increasingly recognizing that no gifts are truly free. For example, a number of South Pacific countries have put a freeze on Chinese loans over concerns that, should they default, the Chinese might seek heavy concessions,” Brant adds.
Foreign aid, however, is just one prong in a diverse approach taken by China in recent years to extend its influence beyond merely economic matters and beyond Asia as well.
Allan Topol contends China’s recent efforts to extend its reach was only strengthened by President Barack Obama’s decision to skip the recent ASEAN conference to deal with matters at home.
He notes that the Asian giant is competing for global supremacy in areas beyond economics and is “moving aggressively to tie up energy and other natural resources” through its foreign aid program and by building up its defense capacity.
“We can no longer close our eyes to the fact that China’s defense spending has risen by twelve percent or more a year for the last decade. China now has more active military personnel that the U.S….2.3 million versus 1.6 and almost as many bombers…132 to 155. It has produced its first aircraft carrier,” Topol writes in The Huffington Post.
China’s growing military capacity is the focus of an in-depth analysis published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in September. The report states its goal is to open “an unclassified dialogue on the military developments in China” and to focus “on the actual changes taking place in Chinese forces” with the aim of providing “both US and Chinese analysts with a better basis for understanding Western estimates of the changes in Chinese force strength and force quality.”