January 23, 2018        Reading Time: 2 minutes

Your weekly digest of foreign policy commentary:

Reading Time: 2 min read

Merriden Varrall explains China’s approach to foreign aid. Image credit – fotokon / deposit photo.



Understanding China’s Approach to Aid, The Interpreter, by Merriden Varrall, Director, East Asia Program, Lowy Institute

“Chinese aid is not a coherent and strategic tool of the Chinese state.”

  • Merriden Varrall argues that there is a lack of understanding about China’s foreign aid. She seeks to explain China’s approach to foreign aid, commenting that:
    • Beijing does not use aid as a strategic tool. Rather, it follows a system of demand-driven aid, whereby recipient countries approach Beijing with proposals for developmental aid.
    • Unlike OECD donors, China does not (1) assume the idea of “development as freedom” or (2) view transparency and good governance as keys to achieving development.
    • Instead, China views economic growth and infrastructure investment as keys to achieving development. Therefore, while “skyscrapers and wide roads” funded by Chinese aid may seem unnecessary to some, these projects reflect what development means in China.



How Britain Could Change Its Mind About Brexit, Project Syndicate, by Anatole Kaletsky, Chief Economist and Co-Chairman of Gavekal Dragonomics

“Britain is still a democracy, and it can still change its mind about Brexit.”

  • Anatole Keletsky argues that Brexit is an outcome of voter behavior, and should not be treated as inevitable; modest shifts in behavior could lead to its reversal. He notes that:
    • Brexit is already viewed as “wrong in hindsight.” A slight shift in public opinion and more vocal political statements against Brexit could result in its reversal.
    • For UK citizens to consider the possibility of the UK remaining in the EU, they need to discard the sense that Brexit is inevitable and view a possible reversal as an indicator of a healthy democracy.
    • However, for these behavioral changes to take place, European leaders would need to state that the UK is legally entitled to change its mind about leaving the EU.

Written by Malinda Meegoda and edited by Anishka De Zylva.

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