Foreign aid is not a political tool: Comment

Recently, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said at the Foreign Relations Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party that Japan's annual yen loans to China would decrease by 11 percent in 2004 and Japan would completely cease new yen loans to China in fiscal year 2008.

Japanese government loan to China was a mutually beneficial and reciprocal funding cooperation made under special political and historical backgrounds, China and Japan should properly handle the problem in a responsible attitude toward the general situation of bilateral relations.

However, certain Japanese media and politicians seize the opportunity to describe aid to China as "tribute-paying diplomacy", and as a "biggest failure in Japan's diplomacy". Facts show that these people who talk about aid to China simply do not understand the meaning of foreign aid. In their eyes, aid is merely one-sided alms, making it seem that the Chinese as the beneficiary should be at the mercy of others.

After WWII, developed Western countries began to provide aids to developing nations in the forms of loans, technological cooperation, free assistance, etc.

A review of the 50-odd-year history of aid for development shows that foreign aid is reciprocal and mutual beneficial, the aid-giving nation and the aid recipient are both beneficiaries. Postwar Japan realized economic recovery precisely by assistance from the United States and international financial institutions. Japan turned from an aid recipient to an aid-giving nation.

Over the past two decades or so, Japan's aid to China has played an active role in China's economic construction, at the same time it has also promoted Tokyo's economic development and the growth of trade between China and Japan. Along with the enhancement of China's economic strength, gradual reduction of loans is a matter of course.

In recent years, however, some Japanese politicians have regarded the rise of China's economic strength as a challenge to Japan, and looked upon China as a potential rival, and thus tried by hook or by crook to contain China. Under their agitation, harsh terms are attached to the way of providing assistance and to aided projects as shown in the outline of the new government development aid formulated by the Japanese government, for instance, aid is to be extended in light of such situations as military expenditure, the export of weapons, and so-called basic human rights and democratization.

Aid is originally a matter of benefit to both sides, but now it has been changed into a tool by certain Japanese who want to make Chinese feel grateful, make them forget the history of being victimized and to apply political influence to China. In the opinion of these Japanese, hasn't aid become a "political card" by which they can do as they please?

China is one of the biggest aid-recipients in the world, as well as one of the countries making the best use of foreign aid. Foreign aid has not only relieved China of the difficulty caused by funding shortage, at the same time, it has enabled China to absorb many advanced foreign technologies and management expertise.

China hopes to continue to gain foreign aid and to try to make good use of it to enhance its ability for self-development. However, we should heighten our vigilance against those foreign aids mixed with ill intention.

By People's Daily Online

People's Daily Online ---