Can China Stand on Its Own?

Courtesy of The NY Times. By Minxin Pei

Making China abide by “advanced countries’ standards” in its development aid practice abroad is unfair to the underprivileged citizens in China (since they will be paying for such compliance) and unsustainable because China is actually mis-allocating scarce resources to project its power abroad when most of the social needs typical of a developed country are not met at home.

Ordinary Chinese finance China’s foreign projects and would pay to meet “developed” nation standards.

To outsider observers, China appears to be an economic juggernaut whose expanding role in development aid must be accompanied by stringent rules that “industrialized” nations follow. This argument seems reasonable on the surface, but overlooks several crucial realities.

First, China’s external development programs are financed by the taxes paid by ordinary Chinese who have no voice in deciding whether such programs should actually exist. If China were a democracy, it is doubtful whether its taxpayers would support their government’s costly prestige projects abroad.

Second, to the extent that compliance with industrialized nations’ development aid standards entails real and significant costs, such costs will only further add to the burden of ordinary Chinese citizens, many of them lacking basic social services and protection.

Read more here.

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