Devpolicy Blog: Comparing China’s and Taiwan’s aid to the Pacific

News_Pick10-01

In terms of aid volume, Chinese aid to PICs totalled US$1.05 billion between 2011 and 2016, which is nearly four times Taiwan’s cumulative aid (US$271 million). However, given the larger populations of the Pacific states that recognise China, the per capita aid spending of China in the Pacific is US$108, which is less than half of Taiwan’s per capita aid spending (US$237) in the region.

Bilateral aid dominates aid from China and Taiwan to the Pacific region. The majority of Chinese aid goes into large-scale infrastructure projects in the form of concessional loans such as the US$46 million for constructing the Goroka University dormitory (phases 2–4) in Papua New Guinea. This has sparked debate about the indebtedness of PICs. In comparison, Taiwan’s aid has focused on technical assistance in agriculture and health, government scholarships and small- to medium-sized infrastructure such as a solar power plant in Nauru. Taiwan also uses aid to promote people-to-people links. In August 2013, Taiwan’s Institute of Diplomatic and International Affairs and the East-West Center in Hawai‘i launched a five-year Pacific Islands Leadership Program with Taiwan which was extended for another five years. By 2018, a total of 144 Pacific youth leaders had participated in the program, including from all eight PICs that recognise China.

Until September 2019, Taiwan had delivered about 70 per cent of its Solomon Islands aid budget through rural constituency development funds. The fact that Taiwan had paid scant attention to mega-infrastructure had apparently been resented; the parliamentary bipartisan task force complained that ‘Taiwan will not do anything substantial in infrastructure development to support the economic growth of Solomon Islands’. China has promised to provide aid to Solomon Islands in sectors such as infrastructure, constituency development funds, scholarships and the 2023 Pacific Games.

Both circumvent sensitive areas such as democracy, human rights and governance in PICs. Some aid experts from Taiwan AID suggest Taiwan adopt a human rights-based approach and allow civil society organisations to play a greater role in aid delivery to differentiate Taiwan from China’s tight control of such organisations overseas.

Full article:

Comparing China’s and Taiwan’s aid to the Pacific

Related Posts