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Providing foreign aid a way to survive

(Global Times)

13:18, July 24, 2012

Rumors have spiraled in recent days that China's foreign ministry just declared a debt exemption of $95 billion for China-friendly foreign countries, sparking criticism online. Though this has proved to be an unsubstantiated allegation, it demonstrates yet again how China's policy of providing international aid is misconceived by the public.

As the world's second largest economy, China provides aid to the world's least developed nations in a variety of forms, including material supplies, loans, and tariff and debt exemptions. While foreign aid is often interpreted by Western politicians as schemes to seal preferential energy deals, critics in China tend to stress the fact that millions of Chinese people still live in poverty.

Sadly, the depiction of China as a calculating factory owner squeezing oil from Africa counters the record of China's devotion to friendship among formerly oppressed nations. China's assistance to Third World countries in the 1950s and 60s when demand for imported energy was low reflected the ideal that undeveloped nations must help each other in a world system unfavorable to latecomers. Such ideals have not died.

From a more pragmatic perspective, it's in line with China's interests to aid poorer nations. Reducing the burden of debt contributes to the development of those countries, which will become growing markets for Chinese products.

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