Making Sense of Peak Chinese Aid
If grand strategic calculations were driving China’s foreign investment, do you think its investments abroad would be declining at the very moment of "peak competition?"
Whether you want to tell a good story or a scary one, tracking Chinese outbound aid and investment is an obsession for much of the world.
But data minus perspective is not helpful. We need ways of making sense of patterns and trends, thereby having some basis to anticipate the whys and whens of change.
Chinese aid to the Pacific—most of which comes in the form of financing for Chinese projects—peaked around 2016.
But why has China’s aid slowed, to the Pacific or other parts of the global South? To what extent should we expect it to slow further, or even stop?
How China engages the Pacific is of a kind with how it engages the global South generally. I’ve yet to see anything different in how it presents itself here compared with other regions.
And so the answer to these questions requires situating Chinese economic ties to the Pacific in the context of China’s ongoing crisis of capital accumulation. The story of the Pacific’s financing situation is actually a global story about China’s relationship to capitalism and the global South.
Let me explain.