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This chapter investigates the motivations of recipient governments who seek out Chinese development projects. We examine how host country leaders shape the ways that Chinese development finance is allocated across subnational jurisdictions. First, we evaluate whether China’s allocation of aid and debt within countries flows to areas with higher levels of socioeconomic need. Second, we explore whether political leaders manipulate incoming financial flows from China to advance their own political interests. We do so by examining whether and when funds from Beijing favor the home provinces of political leaders. Finally, we compare and contrast the ways in which Chinese and World Bank development projects are subnationally distributed. To do so, we assign latitude and longitude coordinates to the specific locations where China implemented its de- velopment projects. Our findings indicate that Chinese development finance does not go to the geographic areas within recipient countries where it is most needed: much of it ends up in wealthier provinces. In addition, Chinese development projects favor politically privileged jurisdictions: the home provinces of political leaders receive substantially more Chinese development finance in countries with competitive elections, and even more at election time. This is a problem from a development perspective because the average home province of a political leader is significantly wealthier than the rest of the country.
China is now the lender of first resort for much of the developing world, but Beijing has fueled speculation among policymakers, scholars, and journalists by shrouding its grant-giving and lending activities in secrecy. Introducing a systematic and transparent method of tracking Chinese development projects around the world, this book explains Beijing's motives and analyzes the intended and unintended effects of its overseas investments. Whereas China almost exclusively provided aid during the twentieth century, its twenty-first century transition from 'benefactor' to 'banker' has had far-reaching impacts in low-income and middle-income countries that are not widely understood. Its use of debt rather than aid to bankroll big-ticket infrastructure projects creates new opportunities for developing countries to achieve rapid socio-economic gains, but it has also introduced major risks, such as corruption, political capture, and conflict. This book will be of interest to policymakers, students and scholars of international political economy, Chinese politics and foreign policy, economic development, and international relations.
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