A review of Brautigam’s *The Dragon’s Gift* on The China Beat

By | March 15, 2010

Part of the anxiety over China’s presence in Africa comes from the challenge they pose to traditional ideas about aid. The Chinese operate with low costs compared to Western aid projects that pay high salaries to foreign experts and put them up in fancy hotels. A 2008 Oxfam study, for example, estimated that donors to Mozambique hire 3,500 “technical experts” at a cost of $350 million per year, an amount that could provide 400,000 local salaries. While Chinese projects do import labor and management, workers live in simple housing and are paid modest salaries, minimizing overhead and allowing the Chinese to greatly underbid Western donors. The Chinese also avoid imposing restrictions on their zero-interest loans for infrastructure, preferring to give African governments agency and complete buy-in. They do not demand economic or democratic reform, and they invest and emphasize profitability in sectors that have been all but abandoned by traditional donors — the messy business of industrialization is not on the agenda of the Millennium Development Goals.

The whole review, by Angilee Shah.

H/T Vernant

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