China Global

Banking on Beijing: The Aims and Impacts of China’s Overseas Development Program

Episode Summary

Though China’s overseas development program has a long history, it greatly expanded after the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013. Since then, debates have emerged among policymakers, scholars, and journalists about the objectives and impacts of China’s lending and grant-giving activities. Various charges levied against Beijing include that its development programs seek to prop up corrupt and authoritarian regimes and saddle countries with unsustainable debts. Some observers also claim that Chinese projects are not substantially contributing to economic development in recipient countries. Uncovering the facts is challenging because China’s overseas financing is shrouded in secrecy. Gathering data is possible, but enormously time-consuming. In this episode, Bonnie Glaser speaks with Dr. Bradley Parks, executive director of AidData, where he leads a team of 35 program evaluators, policy analysts, and media and communication professionals who work with governments and international organizations to improve the ways in which overseas investments are targeted, monitored, and evaluated. Parks collaborated with a large team of experts to evaluate China’s development programs through rigorous evidence and presented the research results in a book titled, “Banking on Beijing: The Aims and Impacts of China’s Overseas Development Program. [2:02]: Methodology and Data Set [7:05]: Differences between China's and OECD Countries' International Development Finance [11:39]: Changes in Chinese Overseas Lending [15:11]: Impact on Recipient Countries' Economic Growth [21:33]: Objectives [29:11]: Reevaluating and Looking Ahead