International Development, Chinese Style


There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the growing influence of China on the international stage. As the world’s most populous country, (by some estimates over ten percent of the population of the entire planet is Chinese), embarks on a rapid industrialization their need for raw materials, natural resources and electrical power is unprecedented. Understandably much of the rest of the world is quite nervous about what an increasingly assertive China might mean for the rest of us.

China has always been an isolated country. They intentionally separated themselves from the rest of us centuries ago and hid behind a literal and metaphorical wall. It wasn’t until recently (in the past 50 years or so) that they began to immerge from behind that wall. Tentatively at first but ultimately out of necessity, once the process was started it was impossible to reverse.

The size of China makes a lot of people nervous. What happens when the world’s largest population makes rapid industrialization a priority and becomes the world’s largest economy almost overnight? To hear some economists and politicians speak, it’s as if a growing Chinese economy is a harbinger of the apocalypse.

However, from the very beginning China has had an over-riding policy on the way they engage in international trade, especially when dealing with less developed, resource rich countries. This policy was originally published in 1964 and is still referred to regularly by Chinese politicians and industry today when making their international deals. The so called “Eight Principles of China’s Aid to Foreign Countries” is not at all what you might expect from a communist country, especially one that is seeking to export not only its products but also its ideology. On the contrary China’s approach to international development is far more egalitarian and less confrontational than the United States and the major western donor organizations.

What follows is a complete listing of the eight principles as published in 1964, we in the west could learn a thing or two about mutually beneficial, no strings attached aid and market economics from the Chinese.

1. The Chinese Government always bases itself on the principle of equality and mutual benefit in providing aid to other countries. It never regards such aid as a kind of unilateral alms but as something mutual.

2. In providing aid to other countries, the Chinese Government strictly respects the sovereignty of the recipient countries, and never attaches any conditions or asks for and privileges.

3. China provides economic aid in the form of interest-free or low-interest loans and extends the time limit for repayment when necessary so as to lighten the burden of the recipient countries as far as possible.

4. In providing aid to other countries, the purpose of the Chinese Government is not to make the recipient countries dependent on China but to help them embark step by step on the road of self-reliance and independent economic development.

5. The Chinese Government tries its best to help the recipient countries build projects which require less investment while yielding quicker results, so that the recipient governments may increase their income and accumulate capital.

6. The Chinese Government provides the best-quality equipment and material of its own manufacture at international market prices. If the equipment and material provided by the Chinese Government are not up to the agreed specifications and quality, the Chinese Government undertakes to replace them.

7. In providing and technical assistance, the Chinese Government will see to it that the personnel of the recipient country fully master such technique.

8. The experts dispatched by China to help in construction in the recipient countries will have the same standard of living as the experts of the recipient country. The Chinese experts are not allowed to make any special demands or enjoy any special amenities.

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